McG (Charlie’s Angles, Terminator: Salvation) is a sort of low-rent version of Michael Bay. His films aren’t as big as Bay’s, but they are always exciting. Not necessarily good, but always exciting. And subtle? That is not a word that he understands. Same goes for This Means War. Big and loud.
We are introduced to FDR and Tuck, played by Chris Pine (Star Trek, Unstoppable) and Tom Hardy (Inception, Warrior), two top CIA spies. They are best friends and have been since they can remember. FDR (Pine) is the ladies’ man. He has a lot of money (we never know how he got it); flashy cars and can flirt his way into almost any bed. Tuck (Hardy) is the well-to-do Englishman (we never find out how an Englishman ends up in the CIA), with an English accent, good manners and not-so-good luck with the ladies.
We also meet Lauren, played by Reese Witherspoon (Walk the Line, Water For Elephants), a single career woman who also doesn’t have too much luck with the opposite gender. Her loud, crass and obnoxious friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler) signs her up on a dating site, at the same time as Tuck does. They meet on the site and decide to go for coffee.
The coffee goes really well, but afterward, Lauren bumps into FDR, whom, without knowing that she is the girl that Tuck met, smooth-talks her into a date. That also goes really well.
The next day, both men talk about a girl they met and it turns out (surprise!) its Lauren! And so the chaos ensues. Both spies decide to try to win her heart and as FDR put it: May the best man win!
Both men go to extremes to sabotage the other’s efforts to woo Lauren, as only spies can, with often hilarious and costly results.
And for good measure, McG threw in an angry mercenary guy who tries to kill Tuck and FDR while they pursue Lauren, ending with the inevitable finale, car chases, shooting, flames and all.
McG’s notion of subtle is smashing a cup with a sledge-hammer. This movie feels like that. It’s loud, obnoxious and over the top. It’s not a great movie by any standard, but at least it is very funny, and offers up some witty and interesting scenarios.
This Means War reeks of clichés, with Lauren having a loud, foul-mouthed friend (read comic relief), the typical villain, who keeps chasing the heroes, for whom it eventually ends badly, the two handsome spies, who can use government resources as they want, and of course the romance!
FDR (what sort of name is that anyway?) is simply the embodiment of cool. In fact, a bit too cool. Tuck just looks out-of-place and really uncomfortable with a gun. And the action scenes are okay-ish, And the romantic bits aren’t romantic.
This is a romantic action-comedy, or an action packed romantic-comedy. Either way, it’s one the ladies will like, especially due to the double dose of eye-candy, and one that guys could actually admit to having seen, due to the action. It’s a win-win for everyone.
Either way, it’s a fun romp, that doesn’t take itself too seriously.