It's the decision every man faces in life: do you bug the home of the woman you're dating? Even more common: do you or do you not spy on the woman while she's going on a date with your best friend and coworker, using a Predator Drone aircraft? These are the quandaries on-screen pals Chris Pine and Tom Hardy face as they both attempt to court a very sexy looking Reese Witherspoon in the new romantic comedy This Means War.
Witherspoon plays scorching hot but conveniently single Lauren, who meets a charming Brit named Tuck (Hardy, who will next be seen as the villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises). They hit it off immediately. Shortly thereafter, however, she meets the smooth talking FDR (Kirk... er, Pine), who talks so smoothly he convinces her to go on a date with him. Soon, both men are smitten, but there's just one problem: they're smitten with the same woman.
Another problem: they're covert CIA agents and, as best friends, are determined to beat the other one using every asset at their disposal, which includes a bottomless black budget funded by the United States government.
Yet another problem: a really bad guy has arrived in the U.S. seeking revenge.
Life is hard for young attractive people in Los Angeles.
This Means War is unfortunately directed by McG, who ruined my entire 2003 with the lobotomy-inducing Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and kicked me in the balls George Lucas-style with the terrible Terminator Salvation. Fortunately, This Means War somehow dodges the McG curse as it's a surprisingly entertaining, funny and enjoyable comedy.
Sure, it has its plot holes. The action - which mainly occurs during the opening sequence and the climax - is forgettable. The whole concept is ludicrous, too.
But This Means War is a romantic comedy, which means that the use of a Predator Drone to spy on a friend is no more ludicrous than sneaking through airport security to chase down the love of your life who is about to leave for a new job somewhere else in the country, never to be seen again. Which, if you haven't noticed, is how most romantic comedies end (note: This Means War ends with a car chase and explosions).
As with most romantic comedies that are more geared toward men than women, This Means War is funnier and better than most films from the genre. Written by Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg, based on a story by Dowling and Marcus Gautesen, This Means War is fast, flighty and carefree, yet it works due to the absurdly silly premise and the energy of its three stars.
Hardy, Pine and Witherspoon all have great chemistry with one another. They appear to have had fun filming the movie, their enthusiasm for the story bursting at the seams. Pine and Witherspoon are especially good together, though the competitive nature of the two male characters seems to have rubbed off on the actors as well, as their comedic timing - especially when sharing a scene - gets better as the movie progresses.
This Means War isn't the smartest, funniest or most action-packed movie ever made, but it's still clever, funny and at time exciting (okay, the only exciting part is when Witherspoon starts stripping down). The movie's premise is so over-the-top it works, and the actors' energetic performances bring the inspired screenplay to life. Recommended. And guys, this is a movie you'll enjoy just as much as the fairer sex. Because romantic comedies made for guys are just better.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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