It’s Spy Against Spy
CIA agents, FDR Foster [Pine] and Tucker Henson [Hardy] are dispatched to Hong Kong to scupper a arms deal between some nameless dudes and Heinrich.. er.. they didn’t give him a surname… Heinrich the German [Schweiger]. In the process of shooting up the penthouse location, they obtain ‘the weapon’ but accidentally manage to kill Heinrich’s younger brother. Naturally, Heinrich vows to make them pay for what they have done. But who cares about that!? That’s boring! You know what we need? We need a film about a blonde girl and two guys fighting over her! Well, thankfully McG has given you just that. Back in the States, Foster and Tuck get a bollocking and taken out of the field – which in McG’s mind means drumming on your desk and watching a gun spinning. During their R&R, Foster notes that it’s been a long time since Tuck’s been on a date and so, Tuck joins an online dating site. Simultaneously we’re introduced to Lauren Scott [Witherspoon], a single woman with a career in.. something to do with reviewing consumer products. After she runs into her ex-boyfriend and his new fiancée, she feels the need to find a man. Turning to her best friend, Trish, for advice (her best friend being the ridiculous Chelsea Handler) Lauren unwillingly joins a dating website and sets up a meet with Tuck. After an incredibly positive first meeting, Lauren leaves and bumps into Foster in a video store (’cause they still exist apparently) and acting on autopilot he aggressively pursues Lauren. Through random conversation, it becomes apparent to both men that they are in fact seeing the same person. Rather than being outraged by this woman’s actions, they decide to make a competition of it, allowing Lauren to choose which man is better for her. So begins an hour of absurd setups, a shocking amount of invasion of privacy and a few action pieces thrown in for good measure.
Overall, I found myself entertained by this film. Not engaged or amused but entertained. The runtime didn’t drag and despite all the horrific flaws and plot-holes, the chemistry between Hardy and Pine made the film bearable. Furthermore, the fact that This Means War revelled in its own ridiculousness almost pays off, ensuring you experience a modicum of enjoyment from start to finish. Now, despite all of what is to follow, that statement is incredibly important. Essentially, no matter how bad the writing, direction or supporting cast got, at least I didn’t walked away grinding my teeth.
Basically, this film is a fucking mess. The character’s names are absolutely stupid, as are their lives outside of work, considering the nature of their chosen profession. The plot is loose at best and the dialogue, scenarios and humour feel cheap, immature and beyond ridiculous. On top of that, the story completely forgets the main villain, only to have him remerge fifteen minutes before the film ends and disposed of just as quickly for a horrifically predictable and neat close. Then there’s the technical side of the movie, with the jarring directing hammering the last few nails into McG’s coffin, appalling editing littered with scandalous continuity errors and an atrocious amount of random black screens transitioning from one scene to the next. The score is fairly fitting but only in the sense that it’s sporadic and in your face without any distinctly memorable moments.
**Spoilers toward the end**
What grates on me the most is the strange moral compass driving the plot – namely that both males feel justified in taking cyber-stalking to a despicably criminal level and the female lead is quite happy to lead on two men simultaneously on the grounds that ‘men do it all the time’. I appreciate this is for comedic and entertainment value but a sense of right and wrong is never really brought into question and every character gets on their hypocritical-high-horse at one point or another. I think my other key frustration is that Lauren ends up picking the wrong guy. From the very get-go, it’s apparent that Tuck is a charming and sensitive individual, whose previous marriage didn’t work out because of the nature of his job; Foster on the other hand is a womaniser with a hidden tender side but needs to grow up. So, who does she pick? The womaniser. Why? Well, I have this theory about women on film, that they need to find someone they can change, batter and mould into what they want. As such, Lauren has no need for Tuck. That and she slept with Foster but not with Tuck.. so, you know, shallow too. Nice.
As I clearly stated earlier, very little actually works for this film but because of the interactions between Hardy and Pine, you can’t pretty much get through the film without wanting to stab your own eyes out.. so that’s something. Outside of that, it’s a bit of a waste of time and talent.
2nd March 2012
The Scene To Look Out For:
At the end of the first act, both Tuck and Foster place bugs, wires and concealed cameras around Lauren’s home. This is demonstrated in a long tracking shot around her kitchen. It’s a pretty nicely choreographed sting, if a little moronic but in all honesty, even that felt like it could have contained more. Oh, and it’s bookended with black screens either side. Yet that was one of the more memorable scenes… I think that sums up the entire release for you.
Chelsea Handler plays Trish, Lauren’s best friend.. for some reason. You’d be forgiven for having no clue who the hell Chelsea Handler is, the quick answer is that she’s nobody and can’t act, even when portraying herself. Her presence is ridiculous and nauseating, and her almost entirely ad-libbed dialogue is eye-rollingly banal. Having said that, her presence does spawn one of Chris Pine’s more amusing lines, “Why does she keep listening to that old man?”
“My boobs are sweating”
In A Few Words:
“Disappointing mess but curiously tolerable thanks to the chemistry between the two leads. Outside of that, a mark of shame for McG and he should take the hint – feature length films are not his forte”
Total Score: 2/5