We’re supposed to just smile appreciatively in fond recognition of the jokes we’ve heard so many times before, the cliché setups and payoffs being delivered by the most broadly written sitcom castoffs, and a gentle childlike wonder that these colorful pictures are moving and talking.
Tuck (Tom Hardy, Inception) and FDR (Chris Pine, Star Trek) are two preternaturally cool CIA agents and best friends forever. When they both accidentally fall for Lauren (Reese Witherspoon, Water for Elephants), an increasingly dangerous competition begins between them to see who can win her heart first. Though Lauren is a nice girl and has qualms about dating two men at the same time, her liquored up best friend (Chelsea Handler, Chelsea Lately) convinces her to live the dream of dating two hot dudes at the same time “for women everywhere.” There’s also a spy subplot thrown in there so we can have a highway chase scene.
This is less a movie than it is a cut and paste collage of other movies without any attempt to freshen up the material or even add their own spin. Calling it a hybrid of the romantic-comedy and action-thriller genres would be an insult to both hyphenate sub-categories. The first date scenarios are so ludicrously implausible or overtired—a trapeze trust exercise in a private big top or a forced kiss during a bad date to trick your newly engaged ex-boyfriend that he was a sucker for giving you up—that it’s impossible to care about these cartoon characters walking around with the faces of actors I’ve been known to like. It’s an ode to people who treat dating as a series of maneuvers and manipulations where effectively tricking someone into thinking you’re a good person is the time tested formula for a happily ever after.
Now, none of this should be too surprising. It’s directed by McG, the guy behind the Charlie’s Angels movies, and his films aren’t known for the depth of their characters or their organic execution. But as an acceptable popcorn substitute this thing should have looked SO much cooler. Two cool sequences and one scene that happens in a well-choreographed uninterrupted shot does not a McG-movie make.
My personal opinion: This Means War is an absolute waste of talented actors and an audience’s time and money. Not even worth watching on an airplane.
—Words by Jake Jarvi