Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine
Running Time: 97 mins
This Means War is an American film about two best friends, working together in the CIA, who discover they’re dating the same woman, and so decide to break out all the stops to sabotage the other’s relationship with her.
The premise for this film actually seemed pretty entertaining to me. Two spies going head to head to compete over the same woman could have provided a lot of fun, and added something to the typically tedious rom-com genre. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite the case, as This Means War is a very generic romantic comedy, featuring a predictable plot, unlikable characters, and very little in the way of good humour, and although it’s a light and easy-going watch, it’s by no means the most enjoyable 90 minutes you’ll ever spend.
Now, the biggest problem with the movie for me was the characters. On the one hand, you’ve got Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, both incredibly smooth actors who’ve played a lot of likable characters. However, in This Means War, they play two men who go to the most extreme lengths to get the woman of their dreams. I’m not asking for extreme realism in a rom-com, but watching the two spies use CIA technology, and somehow convince their colleagues that this is a matter of security, was really annoying, and took away from the leading duo’s supposedly suave personas.
However, they’re nothing when it comes down to Reese Witherspoon’s character. She’s not as shrill and annoying as in Hot Pursuit, and Witherspoon doesn’t necessarily do anything wrong, but her character is such a hypocritical idiot throughout, given that she ends up dating two guys and then goes mad at the pair of them for lying to her on occasion, made me really dislike her, which meant that I wasn’t able to sympathise with the two men’s desire for her, leading to a far more boring and irritating watch.
The plot in this movie is also as predictable as you’ll see. A good rom-com can work with a generic plot, but it needs good humour and emotion to do that, whereas This Means War thinks that big-budget action can replace that. Similar to the awful action rom-com, The Bounty Hunter, the plot here is littered with action and romance, but never really brings the two together. Apart from the inevitable ups and downs in the relationship, the film should have done more to make its action sequences more engaging by tying in the romance. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen, and there’s very little to enjoy otherwise.
The comedy here is the final big problem. Whilst, as I said, the light-hearted and easy-going atmosphere means that this film isn’t a horrifying and painful watch, it’s really easy to notice when you’re not laughing enough. The film throws jokes around like crazy, and although there are a few moments that can make you chuckle, I felt that the majority of the humour, most of which came from either the two men’s rivalry or Reese Witherspoon’s irritating older friend, completely fell flat.
Overall, This Means War is nothing more than your average romantic comedy. You’ve seen it all before, and there’s very little here that offers a properly entertaining watch, thanks to its unlikable characters, poor comedy and predictable plot, which is why I’m giving it a 5.7.