Fox // 2012 // 97 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // June 4th, 2012
Kiss kiss, bang bang.
This Means War's screenplay kicked around Hollywood for a long time before ending up in director McG's lap. Originally connected to everyone from Seth Rogan to Sam Worthington, the story finally went to camera with Reese Witherspoon as the love interest and Tom Hardy and Chris Pine as the super spies vying for her affections. This Means War is now available on Blu-ray care of Fox Home Entertainment.
FDR (Chris Pine, Unstoppable) and Tuck (Tom Hardy, Warrior) are CIA agents and the best of friends. During a routine undercover operation -- the kind in a penthouse suite with supermodels and lots of tuxedos -- the boys foil German villain Heinrich (Til Schweiger, Inglourious Basterds) whose brother is killed in the ensuing chase. When Tuck and FDR finally get home, they realize each are hot on the trail of Lauren (Reese Witherspoon, Sweet Home Alabama), a single and sexy focus group leader who has captured both of their...er, let's say "hearts." Lauren begins dating both men, and although each agrees to stay out of the other's way, their skill set creeps in. Tuck sabotages FDR's dates, while FDR makes sure Tuck's advances go awry at every turn. Now it's spy vs. spy in the game of love, as the vile Heinrich inches ever close to avenge the death of his brother!
I was never bored during This Means War, which you'd think would be a good thing, but in this case it's not. This movie has all the nuance and subtlety of punishing a crying child by whomping them over the head with a frying pan. I would call it brainless, but that feels like an enormous insult to people lacking in grey matter. There isn't a single moment that feels realistic, plausible, or even remotely genuine. Michael Bay's Transformers was easier to swallow, and that movie was about freaking shape shifting robots from another galaxy! Here, things blow up because...I dunno, I guess a movie like this just can't go for more than ten minutes without something -- anything -- exploding in the background.
True or not, This Means War is a movie by committee. I can just see the producer saying to the director: "Look, we want women in the audience, so let's make it a romance. But we also want to draw the men, so add explosions. Teens will want to see it, so make sure there are a lot of unnecessary sexual references. And because a few little ones may sneak in with their parents, make sure it's got all the complexity of a one-sided Rubik Cube." Case in point: FDR and Tuck hold fantastically exciting and well paying jobs, and also appear to a) be immensely popular with the upper class; b) be ruggedly handsome, charismatic, and charming; and c) have zero issues finding and bedding supermodel-level women. All that and they still want to start a mini-world war over Reese Witherspoon? Uh-huh.
Chris Pine is a genuinely likable actor whose role in the Star Trek reboot as Captain Kirk was leaps and (exploding) bounds beyond his work here. Pine's delivery is exceptional, if only he was given funnier lines. Tom Hardy has apparently been on the precipice of stardom since the dawn of time. He may get his shot this summer as the villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, but you'd never know it in This Means War. Hardy spends the better part of the movie having his attractive accent being complimented over and over again, trying really, really hard to prove he's a good father by hugging his kid...a lot. In between these saccharinely staged moments, he shoots his gun and tackles people. That's the depth of character we get from this film.
Reese Witherspoon looks old in this movie. I don't mean that as a putdown (she's spectacularly gorgeous), but as a fact; she has seemingly outgrown fluffy, substandard roles like this one and looks almost confused to be here. It's like her body language is saying, "Good Lord people, I have an Oscar! Someone get me a new agent!" Witherspoon would do well to leave romantic comedies behind and go after work that challenges her and her audience. Oh, and while we're discussing This Means War's female talent, can someone please keep Chelsea Handler away from the big screen? Her boozy, monotone delivery just isn't funny.
There were moments in the film where I felt it epitomized everything wrong with today's Hollywood. One scene in particular gave me an urge to throw large, heavy objects at my television screen: Lauren danced around her apartment while Tuck and FDR stealthily (stealthily = bizarrely choreographed) slinked around setting up bugs and cameras. How do you not realize there are two men in your house, one standing right next to you hidden only by dim lighting?! And since Lauren holds a daytime job, why couldn't they have done this when no one was home???
Okay, I didn't loathe This Means War, frankly because it's just too pathetically idiotic to hate. It's like a lost puppy with three legs looking someone to give it a hug. Clearly, the production team wanted so badly for the audience to love it, they never bothered to give the film an identity. Instead, we get a mishmash of genres, tastes, and attitudes, none of which gel into a cohesive whole.
If it's an consolation, This Means War looks excellent on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1/1080p high definition transfer gives it that rough yet polished action flick look, with an image devoid of major defects. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track sounds great, for a movie that has things going on all over the place: background, foreground, and sideground. If you aren't hearing Reese's giggle or something going bang to your left or right, something's wrong with your hearing. If you prefer to view the film in a language other than English, you're in luck, because Fox offers up seven alternatives in Dolby 5.1 surround.
Bonus features include an audio commentary by director McG, a mini-epilogue about Lauren's bachelorette party, six deleted scenes, a pre-viz alternate opening, three (!) alternate endings with optional commentary, a gag reel, a theatrical trailer, and standard def DVD and digital copies of the film.
This isn't the worst date movie ever made, but it might be the dumbest.
"This Means War!" might be what your Blu-ray player says, if you force this disc into its tray.
Review content copyright © 2012 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Czech)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (French)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Hungarian)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Polish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Turkish)
* English (SDH)
* Unknown (Serbian)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 2012
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Alternate Opening/Endings
* Deleted Scene
* Gag Reel
* DVD Copy
* Digital Copy