There’s nothing worse than watching a film suffering an identity crisis from start to finish. Unfortunately This Means War is just that.
Chris Pine and Tom Hardy play two CIA agents who unwillingly find themselves in a fight over the ever-increasingly irritating Reese Witherspoon. You think it’s a romantic comedy that tracks the ups and downs of this love triangle. Instead, it tries simultaneously to be a rom-com, a buddy movie and an action movie all-in-one, and in the end fails to impress as any.
There’s a reference early on to the late great Alfred Hitchcock as Pine’s character FDR (yes, a stupid name that’s never explained) chatters on about the merits of The Lady Vanishes. Unfortunately, referencing films of such calibre only serve to underline the downfalls of your own.
The editing is woeful. Someone clearly didn’t understand the notion of continuity. Furthermore, the moment that Pine and Hardy realise they’re both seeing the same girl could easily be plucked from countless other films of a similar nature.
You find yourself wincing as the audience fails to fill the gaping void that is meant for laughter following a punchline. There may as well be tumbleweed rolling across the screen.
One particular joke about Hardy’s Britishness is insulting to any man this side of the Atlantic and you find yourself instantly warming to Hardy rather than Pine. Pine’s character is not cocky or arrogant enough for you to care about his character arc and you’re left feeling largely indifferent towards the guy.
Hardy is funny, charming and generally watchable but it’s hard to appreciate when you think of his turns in Bronson and Inception. Here’s hoping the script reads better for his role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises!
The action scenes are well directed, punctuated with equal doses of bullets and punches but there’s a whole sub-plot that just seems clunky, as though it was a last minute addition. There’s no value in the two men being CIA agents and the final set piece is unbelievably anti-climatic, leaving you flat and wondering why you’ve just wasted 90 minutes of your life.
The big question is why wasn’t This Means War released in time for Valentine’s Day? It’s clear that the writers have taken a stab at making a rom-com appealing enough for men. At least give it the scope to pull in that kind of audience.
Occasionally, the film manages to be funny,with Chelsea Handler blurting out the grossly inappropriate jokes that we’ve come to accept in an age of The Hangover and Superbad.
But all in all, This Means War relies too heavily on the freakishly blue eyes of Pine, and Hardy’s too good to be true English accent.
In truth, there’s far more satisfaction in picking up a cheap copy of the only chick flick with an undercover agent that really matters – Miss Congeniality.