THIS MEANS WAR
By Gary Murray
Starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Chelsea Handler
Written by Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg
Directed by McG
Running time 98 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Matinee
Reese Witherspoon has been touted as the new ‘it’ girl for more than a few years now. With her long blonde tresses and girl next door smile, she has the right winning combination to win the hearts of both men and women cinema-goers. In her new film This Means War, she shows that one good film can save the romantic comedy genre.
The film is about two men competing for the same woman. FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are two of the CIA’s best agents. As the film opens, the duo is trying to catch bad guy Heinrich (Til Schweiger) in a melee of high tower explosions. After the guys fail to get their guy but take down all the underlings, they are back to CIA headquarters in LA. We find out that FDR has the covert identity of a cruise ship captain and Tuck as a travel agent. Even Tuck’s young son and her mother do not know that he is one of the super bad who wield a gun.
On the other side of the plot, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) is a woman low on the love department. Even though she adores her job in product testing and consumer research, she yearns for something more in her life. She runs into her ex and finds that he is soon to be married. Her best buddy Trish (Chelsea Handler) posts Lauren’s profile on a dating website and Tuck responds. After the two meet, FDR also meets Lauren at a bookstore.
Very soon the two agents find out that they are dating the same woman. They decide to have a gentleman’s agreement about Lauren. Neither one will interfere with the other and let the relationships fall where they may. This doesn’t work as well in practice and soon the two are bugging each other and planning covert operations to destroy the romance of the other. They use the full resources of the CIA to thwart the others plans while Heinrich is hunting the two agents down. It all twists and turns to an obvious conclusion.
There are some monster set action pieces in This Means War that rival anything Die Hard ever wanted to put on the screen. We get all the explosions and body count one expects with the best of old school action flicks. The film goes frame to frame with excitement in the every action aspect. McG is the director of the Charlie’s Angels films and he one again shows a degree of skill in capturing high-wire feats.
Reese Witherspoon has proved once again that she is a wonder in light romantic comedy. She delivers each line with perfect timing and keeps the audience guessing until almost the very end. Though it is hard to believe that she has trouble in the relationship department, the willing suspension of disbelief is easy to take on. It is a joy to watch her on the silver screen.
Both Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are regulated almost to second tier roles, being more the object of affection than solid characters. They try to give some depth to the arc of personality but pale to the shine that is Reese Witherspoon. Chelsea Handler is given a lion’s share of comedy lines, surpassing every other performer on screen with biting line after biting line. This role should make her a major comedy star.
The film is a true hybrid of two different genres. This Means War runs along the lines of one of the old Rock Hudson-Doris Day-Tony Curtis love triangle flicks but with a heap of action thrown into the mix. It is surprisingly enjoyable and a great way to end Valentine’s week.