Today: February 25, 2024
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This Means War

Contrary to popular misconception..

Contrary to
popular misconception, I’m actually quite a positive person.
A glass half-full kinda guy. I really am. I can normally see the best in any situation. Especially when it comes to films. There’s always a positive if I just look
hard enough, long enough. Even the
worst, most obnoxious, soul-sucking, corporate, made-by-the-numbers,
intellectually and artistically bankrupt piece of foul cinematic demon
excrement usually has something good in it.

Southland
Tales
was incoherent, self-indulgent crap but that bit where
Justin Timberlake lip-synchs to All These Things That I’ve Done by The Killers,
that bit was great! The recent Conan movie was so bad it made me pray to an absent and obviously
uncaring God for global nuclear annihilation to wipe humanity from the face of
the Earth but damn, incestuous Goth vamp Rose
McGowan
was hot! The Bruce Willis/Richard Gere
retread of The Day Of The Jackal was
a tension-free exercise in tedium but at least Bruno tore professional arsehole
Jack Black a new one. On a similar
note, the only reason to watch I Still
Know What You Did Last Summer
apart from Jennifer Love Hewitt’s gravity-defying bosom is to see Jack Black
take a set of hedge clippers to the chest. Say what you like about the remake of The Wicker Man but Nic Cage
getting a faceful of bees (“Not the bees!
Not the bees!”) is pretty funny and while it’s absolutely atrocious and
features Stuart Townsend as a vampire leprechaun, at least Queen Of The Damned was orders of magnitude better than the Twilight movies. See! I positively crap
positivity.

Which brings me to This
Means War
and its good points.
Well…Tom Hardy isn’t
terrible. He’s quite good in fact,
showing a gift for comedy that was hinted at in Inception’s louche identity forger.

So much for This
Means War
’s good points.

Incoherently directed by McG (who is to subtlety and sensitivity what a solid boot to the
balls is to fertility), with a script scrawled in crayon by a dyslexic
simpleton and edited to within an inch of inducing epilepsy by what I can only
assume is a masturbating bonobo with a cutthroat razor, This Means War is quite simply so terrible it will make you believe
in the supernatural. It’s
incomprehensible how this film was crapped into existence without someone at Twentieth
Century Fox fellating Lucifer. In
fact, if you sit close enough to the speaker, you can probably hear, just
beneath the soundtrack, demonic chanting in ancient Sumerian and the weeping of
the eternally damned.

Contrary to what the trailer may have you believe, This Means War is not, I repeat not, a jolly, knockabout, action comedy
in the vein of Mr And Mrs Smith or True Lies. Sure, there’s a bit of incomprehensible action at the start
and a bit more incomprehensible action at the end but This Means War isn’t an action comedy; it’s a rom-com. Nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t love the occasional girly
rom-com? I’m not ashamed to admit
that, on more than one occasion, while idly flicking through the channels, I’ve
come across 27 Dresses about 20
minutes in and ended up watching the rest of the movie. OK, I’m a little ashamed but sometimes
you just can’t beat a decent rom-com.
Unfortunately, This Means War
is not a decent rom-com; it’s more the kind of rom-com (precious little rom,
absolutely no com!) that normally stars Kate
Hudson
. Yup! It’s that bad. Even Katherine Heigl and Jennifer
Aniston
don’t make rom-coms this bad.

You know how this kind of film works. You could write this kind of film. You’d probably do a better job. You couldn’t do a worse job. You take one cute couple; they argue
and fight a lot but they have fantastic sexual chemistry and are made for each
other. Throw in a love rival who’s
either a bit of a dick or is too nice.
Add some comic misunderstandings, a climactic race against time (the
impending marriage of one partner or that dream job on the other side of the
world), a last-ditch declaration of love (think the “You complete me,” scene in
Jerry Maguire) and hey, presto!
romantic comedy gold.

In the perky Kate Hudson role (and by “perky” I mean “Zooey Deschanel-level annoying”) is
35-year-old Oscar-winner Reese
Witherspoon
who last played perky back in 2001’s Legally Blonde (there was also 2003’s Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde but I’ve managed to block
that from my memory) and who just seems a little too, well, mature in the role
of Lauren, the love-starved singleton who comes between This Means War’s cute couple (with fantastic sexual chemistry who
are obviously made for each other are), top CIA agents and BFFs, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy). Enrolled on a dating website by her
annoying, foul-mouthed friend Trish (annoying, foul-mouthed chat show host Chelsea Handler), Lauren meets and
dates the sweet, suave and ruggedly handsome Tuck. Five minutes later, in a ‘hilarious’ coincidence, she meets
and dates the arrogant, handsome FDR.
Five minutes after that, in another ‘hilarious’ coincidence, FDR and
Tuck realise they’re dating the same girl and instead of thinking: “Hmm! This Lauren girl in the unfeasibly
short skirts is a bit of a sort,” they immediately engage in an increasingly
creepy stalker game of one-upmanship, deploying millions of dollars of
high-tech gadgets and surveillance equipment as they spend the rest of the film
competing for her love while Lauren tries to decide which rugged, besotted hunk
she wants to spend the rest of her life with. Which she tries to do by weighing up each one’s pros and
cons. And also boffing them both
within the same 24-hour period.
Which is just a little bit, well, slaggy. There’s also a sub-plot about an evil
international arms dealer (is there any other kind?) but who really cares?

While she may be a fine actress and a gifted light comedienne, Reese Witherspoon’s just not sexy. She has a wholesome, cutesiness and Aryan all-American good looks but she’s a bit vanilla; she lacks the raw, animal sex appeal the role requires. She’s also looking just
a little scraggy these days, a teensy bit mutton dressed as lamb. Are we seriously expected to believe
that not one but two rugged, handsome CIA assassins would fall for her? That these two lifelong friends and
comrades would be driven to increasingly demented, bitter, creepy and dangerous
lengths by her siren-like beauty?
She also lacks any form of sexual chemistry with either Hardy or
Pine. The tension between Hardy
and Pine though is electric.

In many ways, you could see Witherspoon’s Lauren as both
unwitting beard and the vessel that allows Tuck and FDR to consummate their
manlove. These two guys do
everything together. They travel
the world, kill bad guys, fall in lurve with the same shrill, bland, blonde and
then spy on each other as they woo her, pulling every dirty spy trick they know
to thwart and frustrate the other’s romance. They even watch surveillance footage of each other’s
respective dates together, reviewing and critiquing each other’s
performance.

A truly happy, satisfying resolution to this dreary mess
would be for Tuck and FDR, after the climactic shootout, to turn to each other,
sweat dappling their manly brows, their pistols spent and smoking, and fall
into each others arms. They don’t
though. One of them has to get the
girl. But, like that time Elton
John married the plain German woman, you know it isn’t going to last. Sooner or later love will find a
way.

Stunningly awful without being in any way memorable, even
reading this review is moments stolen from your life that This Means War doesn’t deserve.

David Watson

David Watson is a screenwriter, journalist and 'manny' who, depending on time of day and alcohol intake could be described as a likeable misanthrope or a carnaptious bampot. He loves about 96% of you but there's at least 4% he'd definitely eat in the event of a plane crash. Email: david.watson@filmjuice.com

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