By: Garrett Collins
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Handler, and Angela Bassett
In a way, I understand why Tom Hardy took the role of Tuck in this rom-com/action film. After all, he is really building his resume following his last couple career-making years. And, following his portrayal of Bane in director Christopher Nolan’s highly anticipated third and final part of his Batman trilogy The Dark Knight Rises, he won’t be able to hang his hat there either. So, he needs to establish himself in other genres. However, if this McG directed film is any indication, he would be wise to stay away, far away, from this particular genre. This Means War is an absolute mess of a film, with the miscast Witherspoon, more annoying than ever Handler, and Pine & Hardy making complete fools of themselves, all the while taking steps backwards towards establishing durability in these types of roles.
In their defense, it’s not like they had much to work with in terms of script and direction, which is chock full of meandering plot holes and continuity problems, respectfully. It’s about Tuck (Hardy) and Frank (Pine), two CIA operatives who get benched after an operation goes horribly wrong. As they are both benched and bored, they meet up with Lauren (Witherspoon) in different, equally ridiculous ways. Of course, using all the CIA resources at their disposal, they wage a one-upmanship battle to see who can be the one that lands Lauren permanently. As already stated, the film has continuity problems a-plenty, all of which do not make much sense. For example, in one particular scene, the amount of blood that is on both Pine and Hardy’s faces is different no less than 4 times when cutting back and forth. While McG (Charlie’s Angels films, Terminator Salvation) has a decent grasp on how to conceive an action scene (the opening Hong Kong scene is actually fun to watch) he is just too clever for his own good. I have never been a big fan of his work (Chuck, a TV show he produced which has all the elements that should appeal to me, was unwatchable) as he is the type of director who is just too clever for his own good. For example, when asked what he does for a living, Pine’s character of Frank replies that ‘he is the captain of a ship’ (a direct reference to his role as Capt. Kirk in 2009’s Star Trek). And, he says at one point that he is busy watching a CHIPS marathon (his father was Robert Pine, a star on that show). These are astute winks that the general audience could really care less about, and all it accomplishes is alienation.
Speaking of alienation, I must be out of it because I just do not get the comedy of Chelsea Handler. Her show and style of comedy are two things that just make me cringe every time I see it (I used to date someone who loved everything she did. So, at this time I was not in the position to just ‘turn it off’). Now, I can add her acting to that list, as her way of speaking 20 words per 5 seconds was just ear aching, not to mention the fact she looks too to be Witherspoon’s best friend here. How exactly did they meet? Oh, that’s right. This movie isn’t one for explanation. Witherspoon, for all intents and purposes, is just way out of place here. Her situation, and the way she handles the predicament of having to sleep with both men (really?) just made me sad to watch, as I think in the right spots, she can be pretty endearing. In fact, the only times this side came out was when she had interaction with her ex-boyfriend and his wife. She was spot on with some great comedic timing in these scenes, and, if anything, made this film more watchable than 2010’s horrible How Do You Know.
Ok, most anything is more watchable than that film. And, This Means War does have a few chuckle worthy moments (Pine taking her to an art gallery and both guys bugging her place at the exact same time trying not to get noticed). But, this film is a serious case of miscasting and missteps all the way around. It’s not that Hardy doesn’t give it the ol’ college try. It’s just that he had a director who has the sense of humor and sensibilities of a Jr High schooler.
2 out of 5