This Means War review

I had mixed feelings before seeing This Means War. On one hand, you've got two charismatic and watchable lead actors in Pine and Hardy, who have excelled in their latest projects. In the other corner we've got Witherspoon, who rarely manages to impress, along with the uninspiring McG directing. However, I'm pleased to report that This Means War was an enjoyable comedy that kept me laughing from start to finish.

The film revolves around two fellow CIA field agents, Franklin and Tuck (Pine and Hardy) who also happen to be best friends. When Hardy goes on a blind date and meets Lauren Scott (Witherspoon) he begins falling for her. The bad news is that Franklin also meets her and they begin dating too. When they discover that they are both infatuated with the same woman they begin to compete against each other for her affections using all the spy gadgets and techniques in their arsenal. In this scenario all is fair in love and war.

The major success of the movie is the chemistry and performances of it's leading duo. Pine has proven over the past few years that he's the most charming actor in Hollywood, with a cocky style reminiscent of a young Brad Pitt and this time around he's on top form as Franklin. Hardy initally seems a bit out of place in this popcorn-fest but showcases his range in this performance, jumping into a comedy and showing some style in the process. The main component to their double act is their witty dialogue and the lengths the two of them go, to one up the other. The unlikely screen couple works well from start to finish and combined with the slick action it makes a really fun dynamic. The other strong showing is from Handler as Lauren's "friend to confide in". Handler has plenty of one liners and gross out moments from the school of Bridsemaids, keeping the laugh level high, but it does feel like Handler has been crowbarred into this movie to provide the raunchy humour needed for most chick flicks.

The film tries to appeal to both men and women. Providing the guys with some silly spy action and the girls get the romantic comedy in return. McG is drawing on his previous work from the TV show Chuck which does manage to combine the two genres into an entertaining mix. However, This Means War is lacking in the romance department due to Witherspoon's character, who is difficult to sympathise with, rarely draws a laugh and feels like an underdeveloped character. She's simply a goal for our two heroes to achieve. Stretching the movie over two genres gives a diluted result and a strange cocktail of styles. We have a bad guy for the spies to deal with which feels like an afterthought and there is a lack of thought put into the female lead. What was needed was a greater focus on the plot and less distraction.

However, the film does have some very funny moments always revolving around the lead duo, it just loses momentum at times. It must be said that the concept is ridiculous, two CIA agents spending their resources focusing on their love life and getting away with it, Witherspoons character has a ridiculous profession and why was a British guy working for the CIA anyway? It's clear to see it doesn't make a lot of sense but it has it's moments and I was pleasantly surprised at how often I laughed.

This Means War at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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