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article imageReview: McG to cinema: ‘This Means War’

By Sarah Gopaul     Feb 14, 2012 in Entertainment
'This Means War' is about two men virtually duelling over the affections of one woman, but it's more like a war on the viewer's sense of storytelling.
What better way to celebrate a holiday that promotes love than with a story about a childish competition over a woman that jeopardizes a long-term bromance. This Valentine's rom-com isn't particularly romantic or consistently comedic. This Means War is a conflict in need of a cover-up.
Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) are partners in the CIA and best friends outside the office. Neither are attached, the former divorced and the latter a committed bachelor, so they spend most of their time together. But a family event ignites a longing in Tuck that motivates him to rejoin the dating scene. However, they unknowingly attract the attention of the same woman: Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). When they discover their mutual interest, they come to a gentleman's agreement of no interference and letting the best man (for her) win. What follows is a gross misuse of company resources, an atrocious invasion of privacy and several immature attempts at sabotage.
Think Charlie's Angels but with no directing story; this is McG's latest contribution to the big screen. It's the element of ridiculous that really pushes it over the edge. As they spy vs. spy their way through their courtship with Lauren, their behaviour tends to lean more toward appalling than funny. They're basically stalkers with a team and more resources. Maybe the absurdity of their actions is supposed to cancel out the creep factor, but it doesn't. They break into her home, skulk around without running into her (or each other) and eaves drop on her intimate conversations with her best friend.
Pine and Hardy are handsome and charming men with a good sense of humour. They also have good chemistry together, playing off of each other quite well. It's the script that isn't effective, not them; which means it would be nice to see them team up again in something with a little more character. Though it would have also been refreshing to see someone else in Witherspoon's role; someone with a little more edge. Instead, she once again portrays the sweet but lonely career woman that audiences have watched her portray numerous times. Her decision to "act like a man" and date two people at once is supposed to be empowering, but it's just a plot device
Another offputting aspect of the film is the guys' professions seemingly take a backseat to their pursuit of Lauren. The bad guy that is supposed to be their number one priority sporadically re-enters the narrative for brief scenes, plotting his revenge. Eventually, he's defeated in an altercation that lasts only minutes.
This Means War is a mess that required more direction. The result is a string of frat boy pranks and countless privacy violations, all in the name of love (?).
Director: McG
Starring: Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon
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