Friday, 11 May 2012

Movie Review: This Means War

I’m sure everyone saw the trailer of ‘This Means War’ and immediately felt the urge to see it, however as is often the case with carefully crafted trailers they are misleading in the reality of their film’s merits. So does this film live up to the trailer? The answer is…well no, it doesn’t but it also doesn’t disappoint, ‘This Means War’ still achieves some of the promises of its trailer and delivers an enjoyable if quite flawed film.

Two very talented CIA agents, Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine), love their day job hunting dangerous terrorists and travelling to exotic locations, as best friends their work relationship is strong making them the perfect team for any mission. When Tuck finds his loneliness too depressing he signs himself up to a dating site where he meets Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), a successful business woman who has been unlucky in love and is finding it hard to go out and meet men. The two have a great first meeting but after the date Lauren ends up bumping into and hitting it off Tuck’s best friend and work partner FDR in a video rental store. Choosing to juggle the two relationships until she can decide which is best Lauren dates the two men who, using their CIA resources, attempt to sabotage each others chances with her.

Action is the meat and potatoes of a flick like this and you won’t be disappointed with its numerous expertly choreographed fight sequences and electrifying stunts. Chris Pine already has experience with film combat and set pieces from his role in JJ Abrams’ Star Trek revival so he is instantly at ease in the precisely timed battles or the death defying leaps his character undertakes in the film but Tom Hardy, whose previous films have been less blockbuster (save Inception) and more character driven pieces excels in these sequences despite his relative unfamiliarity to them. An action centric scene of note concerns Tuck’s epic paintball annihilation using his advanced CIA skills to defeat an entire team of players.

You never want to come up against Tom Hardy in paintball.

The movie doesn’t really hit its stride until near enough the 40 minute mark where the rivalry between Tuck and FDR comes to the forefront of the picture, as is common in MCG’s films, his directorial flair is apparent in their bouts that feature both very well shot action sequences and highly comical situations.

Great aspects of the film such as the action and comedy scenes are unfortunately greatly marred by the inclusion of the incredibly forced and impossible to watch without cringing romantic scenes, with an alteration to some of the dialogue and better structuring of the film as a whole I feel that these scenes wouldn’t stand out so and affect enjoyment of the story as much as they do.

Not that the film strives for a gritty realism but I found a scene towards the end of the movie to be so ludicrously stupid and idiotic that it demeaned the film’s interesting (although nothing to write home about) aspects in order to focus purely on a farcical movie romance cliché. The scene features the climactic meeting of the two agents where Lauren is present, whilst she panics and goes to the bathroom Tuck and FDR duke it out in the restaurant where they apply every CIA technique at their disposal to defeat each other, by the end of this fight the restaurant is destroyed and I mean destroyed, there are fires within the building, smashed glass EVERYWHERE and the two men lie bloody on the floor (not THAT ridiculous yet but it gets worse). Lauren returns to the room to find Tuck and FDR, both still on the floor, barely speaking through their injuries and just as Tuck says the word “Friend” Lauren makes her presence known and immediately figures out that the two men are friends and that they have been playing her the entire time. She does not say a thing about the trashed restaurant (which has been emptied of terrified diners) or the battered state of the two men, nothing at all, she doesn’t even once acknowledge the carnage that surrounds her, she instead takes the moment to perform the obligatory romantic film storm off therefore ending the relationship(s), as if the audience would really believe such a thing at this point in cinema history.

Mere moments before an all out brawl erupts.

The humour of the film is great when it gets a chance to shine without being crowded in plot advancement methods. Chris Pine and Tom Hardy’s chemistry is so natural that when comedy is added to the mix it’ll leave a smile on your face if it isn’t already laughing, the witty repartee between the two is where the best character pieces of the film are found and their two distinct comedy styles blend well together as if they’d been a double act for years. I was particularly impressed with how the direction of the comedy scenes was perfectly suited to the tone of the film given that the humour is treated just as seriously as the drama resulting in scenes such as FDR falling unconscious due to a dart administered by Tuck is accompanied by an ever slowing ‘Sabotage’ by the Beastie Boys.

The comic relief of the film, Trish (played by Chelsea Handler), is supposed to be the outrageously opinionated free speaking best friend whose witty quips have the audience in stiches. She isn’t, she’s terrible. Comic relief in this film is best supplied by the two actors who carry the film, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, Handler’s character is only needed in the situations in which Lauren needs to have someone to both bounce ideas off of and get “advice” (plot advancement) from.

Friendly banter at its best with these two talented actors.

Overall I quite liked ‘This Means War’, its two leads do a remarkable job of keeping the audience interested in the slightly below par story and they fare very well with the sometimes badly written and unintelligent script. Reese Witherspoon is unchallenged in her role and does an adequate job filling the spot vacated for the “attractive blonde lead” the story requires. It isn’t a must-see film that I would advise you to watch as soon as possible but for an enjoyable 90 minute flick to pass the night you can’t go wrong with ‘This Means War’.

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