Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Film Review: This Means War

Certificate: 12A (some sexual content)
Directed By: McG
Cast: Reece Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Handler
Budget: $65 million
Runtime: 97 minutes
Trailer: Watch

Lauren (Witherspoon) is a consumer researcher married to her job. In want of a partner, the picky spinster has yet to find her ideal mate. That is until, like buses, two come along at once in the form of secret agents Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine). When they both realise they've been dating the same woman, the two otherwise BFFs engage in a literal battle for Lauren's heart, using all the resources of the CIA at their disposal.

This bromance come rom-com's whacky premise has all the ingredients for a decent blithesome comedy, but it tries so hard to be charming that, despite brief moments of sweetness, ends up all flustered. Yet to say this is completely devoid of laughs would be a lie. Amusing quips about using the Patriot Act to spy on Lauren (ooo, topical) and Tuck annihilating some kids playing paintball will elicit a giggle, but such moments too sparsely interject. Moreover a film of this nature requires heart, something which is discernibly lacking here.

Considering the combined charisma on show the fact that this doesn't work has to be something of an achievement in itself. Witherspoon's character is just odd, initially coming across all saccharine, but an aura dispelled when she begins stringing the two guys along. Oh boohoo, you don't know which one to pick? Well, why don't you fuck them both to find out?! The fact that this behaviour suffers no reprehension seems somewhat skewed, particularly when Pine, the supposed suave one of the two bros, is expressedly portrayed as a borderline douchebag for his womanising ways. Indeed, the double-standards of this film's gender politics does more than anything to derail its otherwise insouciant premise. Meanwhile, Hardy's stiff, stuttering Hugh Grant British stereotype fails to inspire, never mind that he's a 'foreigner' working in the highest levels of US intelligence. There's also some inchoate bad guy subplot which exists only to justify a car chase and some explosions at the end.

Having watched the trailer what was most disappointing is that I wanted to like this. Yes it's all supposed to be very light-hearted and popcorn, and there are some genuine laughs. But This Means War is a classic case of Hollywood attempting to give audiences what it thinks they want; cool James Bond shit for the fellas, rom-com for the ladies. Unfortunately, as is so typical with Hollywood, its powers of perception have failed to grasp what the people really want once again.