Sunday, February 19, 2012

'This Means War': The Reviews Are In!

Critics aren't buying into the love triangle between Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy.
By Kara Warner

Tom Hardy and Chris Pine in "This Means War"
Photo: 20th Century Fox

"This Means War" has all the makings of a perfect romantic comedy/ action flick, including the very attractive and high-caliber stars Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, the capable direction of McG, comic relief from Chelsea Handler and a script from the guys whose combined talents have brought us "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "Sherlock Holmes," "Role Models" and "Just Go With It."

The story revolves around two best friends and highly skilled CIA agents who fall in love with the same woman and go to war with each other in an effort to win her heart. We imagine the filmmakers set out to make a fun, if only slightly farfetched, popcorn flick, but the critical masses couldn't seem to suspend their disbelief. The film has a 30 percent Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Read on as we fight through the "This Means War" reviews!

The Story
"Having great-looking stars who have the added bonus of actually being able to act makes the noisy romp 'This Means War' more tolerable that it ought to be. It's essentially a love-triangle version of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," rendered even more bombastic in the hands of "Charlie's Angels" director McG. (Simon Kinberg, who wrote the 2005 film that spawned Brangelina, shares script credit here with Timothy Dowling.) So you've got your sport utility vehicles tumbling in slow motion, your gravity-defying shootouts and your obligatory explosions galore. Naturally, the premise is the most high-concept, contrived confection: Two CIA agents (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) who happen to be best friends also happen to fall in love with the same woman (Reese Witherspoon), who has no idea these guys know each other. They promise their shared pursuit won't ruin their friendship, but good luck with all that." — Christy Lemire, The Associated Press

The Bromance Factor
"The relationship that truly sizzles — from the sentiment to the satire — is the one between FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy), with Pine and Hardy pulling off one of the better bromances in recent memory. ... Hardy ('Inception') and Pine ('Star Trek') are the heart of the film — proving to be excellent opposing sides of the same coin. Both balance their characters' cynicism with a certain sweetness, their chemistry fairly crackling, electrifying the screen almost any time they're sharing it, whether taking down a bad guy or squabbling about who is more lovable (it's a tossup). With Lauren, on the other hand, they are basically gentlemen, so not electrifying." — Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

The Suspension of Disbelief Factor, or Lack Therof
"And in the film's opening minutes, it feels as if that might be the desired effect: It's loaded with overblown action chestnuts like from-the-hip gunplay, people dangling from the sides of skyscrapers and a gruff commanding officer. (That would be Angela Bassett, who shows up periodically to growl at her charges in a role that might have been hilarious had anyone thought to write anything legitimately funny for her.) But a good parody takes a finesse that isn't in the vocabulary of McG, a bargain-basement Michael Bay more concerned with cool than coherence. Instead we get utter nonsense like a video store with a database that conveniently includes customer photos for the CIA to tap into. (Related: These characters are, in 2012, going to a video store?) In another scene, FDR wrestles on the floor with a small dog that has just attacked him, as Lauren stands 5 feet away, oblivious. The Farrelly brothers should sue the producers not for stealing the scene outright from 'There's Something About Mary,' but for imitating it so badly." — Ian Buckwalter, NPR

The Final Word
"Part spy caper, part buddy picture, part romantic comedy, part raunchy-girl-talk sex farce, This Means War has been assembled with all the haphazardness of an amateur science experiment. The project was directed by the amped-up industry go-getter McG (Charlie's Angels), and it's had a long trial-and-error history. The initial script dates back a century — or at least about a decade — and the string of famous guys who didn't take the dual lead male roles reportedly includes Bradley Cooper, Seth Rogen, Sam Worthington, and, stretching even further back, Chris Rock and Martin Lawrence. All this fiddling and fumbling shows on the screen. And yet, and yet ... I confess I enjoyed everything that's all over the place about the finished product. 'This Means War' may have been hammered together by brute Hollywood force, but there's this going for it: It's game to throw in anything that'll keep the motor running." — Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

Check out everything we've got on "This Means War."

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