Rating: 3 / 5
This mild romcom is at its heart, a showcase for beautiful stars doing fun things the way they used to in the thirties. Economic tough times now and escapist, and pretty stuff like this where glass swimming pool ceilings, an extremely high concentration of gorgeousness and a snappy, cue script come together, is perfect for soothing worn out hearts.
Witherspoon looks somehow younger than ever in this very pleasant but completely outlandish tale of spy versus spy versus gal. She is strangely teenaged looking, perhaps thanks to the glory of HD. In any case, she plus Chris Pine plus Tom Hardy makes for fabulous cinematic eye candy. I am sorry to dwell superficialities, friends, but This Means War is nothing but and I am happy to play along.
Outlandish because two CIA agents fall in love with Lauren (Witherspoon) on the same day within a few moments of one another – and then throw all the high tech spy gear available to a well-placed agent, dozens of man hours and actual work not done to track her in a game of male pride gone horribly wrong.
The agents soon discover their predicament and set up a gentleman’s agreement on handling the weird romance wrinkle. Their close friendship is strained mightily and that’s a shame but neither will back off setting it up so there will be a winner and a loser.
Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine) rededicate their entire workplace and selves from saving the country to find out which one of them she prefers. It would have been a better film had the Taliban landed in Jersey or Long Beach during their investigations, throwing a spanner into their love games, but alas, it doesn’t happen.
Oh. There is a teensy subplot about a dastardly German mastermind (Til Schweiger) trying to kill them that takes off in the opening Hong Kong high-rise sequences but barely registers until the end for the predictable end-of-story car chase. But it’s such a thin subplot that whenever Schweiger appears it’s always a surprise.
So here is poor Lauren, naively living her life, discussing FDR and Tuck with her friend Trish, played with hilarious abandon by serial zinger Chelsea Handler, shopping, thinking, weighing, and fantasising as CIA infrared cameras are trained on her. Every waking and sleeping moment. Being a romantic comedy this isn’t intended to be horrifically creepy.
McG reportedly shot alternative endings, so make of the one that wound up on film what you will. To my way of thinking, it was the safe choice. The script is nice and tight, funny and moves along, with nary a slow moment. But the reasons the film works at all given its premise, is the skill and charm of the three leads. That you can take to the bank.