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This Means War - Film Review

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by Matt Elliot Taylor (subscribe)
"Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans." - John Lennon
Event: -
Copyright 20th Century Fox.

So far and wide the globe is when we toy with the notion of finding the 'one'. But when two 'ones' find the same 'one', it becomes a deadly battle of spy vs. spy in This Means War.

FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are two top-level C.I.A. assassins and best friends who are waging a war with international criminal Heinrich (Til Schweiger). An operation to capture him goes terribly wrong and they are reassigned from the field to monotonous office jobs. Here, they are forced to go back to some sort of normal day-to-day life – FDR returning to clubs and women, and Tuck trying to reunite and win the affection of his estranged wife (Abigail Spencer) and seven-year-old son Joe (John Paul Ruttan). FDR and Tuck are very much the same but are quite divided when it comes to women – divided literally. They both have a chance meeting at different times with Lauren (Reese Witherspoon), a workaholic but insecure woman who takes advice from her post-hippie friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Unaware that her boyfriends know each other, Lauren finds it extremely difficult to choose between them and so leads both of them on. As each of these handsome agents begin to fall for her, making it harder for her to decide who to stay with and who to give the flick, they use all their killer skills in winning her over.

This romantic-action/comedy was directed by McG, the director of the Charlie Angels remakes as well as Terminator: Salvation, and this film has a similar flavour. There is action, romance, light-hearted drama, and some funny moments that Pine and Hardy handle with utmost seriousness with Witherspoon's naivete acting as the meat in the sandwich so-to-speak. This has many elements of films we've all seen before – two guys fighting over one girl, two agents who are best friends etc. but with a strong leading cast it is entertaining nonetheless. Chris Pine and Tom Hardy have a lovely cheeky banter between them that drives the comic undercurrent of the film, with the always solid Reese Witherspoon perfectly complementing the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants presences of her male counterparts with a very sweet and adorable innocence.

The plot is ultimately predictable though, with an element in the ending that certainly does not need to be there – it's just there for the final gag as the credits begin to roll. However it is given depth from Til Schweiger as the cold, emotionless 'bad guy' who is out to kill the two heroes, and although he is not really a character just a 'bad guy' it proves much better that he's there rather than the whole film being FDR and Tuck fighting over Lauren.

With all of that back-and-forth of sabotaging each other's romantic moments and ruining dates, it becomes a little tiresome and so call's for a much bigger ending than what we get. The climax is satisfying but is not quite worth the so-called C.I.A. version of pranking.

This Means War is an entertaining outing with attractive leads (both in a physical and performative sense), but despite its qualities, fails to transcend the expectations of the audience. What it lacks in the originality department it almost makes up for with some good laughs and a cheeky killer desire for affection.

3.5 stars out of 5

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Why? An entertaining romantic action/comedy
When: February 14th (Aus), February 17th (USA), March 2nd (UK)
Where: Your local cinema
Cost: Check your local cinema for details
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