This Means War
(M) Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine
I took my Dad to see This Means War and we had a really good time. True, the studio seduced us with free drinks and comfy cinema chairs, but I’m certain the movie seduced us, too.
My first thought in the seen-it-a-million-times opening action scene which establishes Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as wise-cracking CIA agents was, “Uh oh … this is dumb.” Thankfully, the rest of the film largely steered away from clichéd action in favour of the relationships. I genuinely laughed. I also cringed. I mostly enjoyed it. So sue me.
The story follows the two agents and best friends, who are shocked when they figure out that they have both started dating the same girl (Reese Witherspoon). At first, they agree that no woman should get in the way of their friendship but their competitiveness soon takes over as they go to extremes to outdo one another with increasingly ridiculous dates and attempt to thwart each other’s attempts to seduce her.
I really wanted to dislike Chris Pine, who was playing a character I’ve seen so many times before and whose sharp suits were perfectly matched to his arrogance, but his persistent, easy charisma eventually earned my begrudging respect.
Tom Hardy was the easy part. Hailed as a genius based on his UK indie roles? Made me cry in Warrior? Picked to follow in Heath Ledger’s steps as the next Batman villain? Hot English accent? Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick. In fact, he was the main reason I didn’t walk into this movie with a foreboding sense of dread.
Reese Witherspoon seems to have ditched her pre-Oscar attempts at credibility in favour of earning the big bucks. I’m not complaining. I like her in whatever she does and she manages to flirt her way through the film, though I have heard whispers that she is “too old” for the part (tough crowd!). She does her best to be bright and funny but it’s clear the boys have been given the most to chew on.
A little more character development wouldn’t have gone astray in some of the smaller roles (including perhaps one of the most one-dimensional bad guys in recent memory) and I’m sure I’m not the only one who found Reese’s vulgar best friend painfully unfunny. This Means War often teeters on the brink of terrible but manages to keep its head above water with its aggressive star power and some truly funny moments.