It's probably every girls dream to have two men fighting over them, but when the two guys happen to be CIA agents you can expect a considerable amount of collateral damage to be involved. That's the basic premise of This Means War, the latest offering from McG (Terminator Salvation, Charlie's Angel) and starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy.
FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are best friends and CIA operatives who, having being grounded after a botched mission, fall in love with the same girl. Lauren (Witherspoon) is the object of their mutual affections, fitting the typical role of the unlucky in love, yet beautiful workaholic whose biggest problem seems to be choosing which ridiculously hot guy to be with. Tough life.
So as you've probably already worked out this film ticks a number of genre boxes: action, love, comedy and bromance, all make an appearance although the majority never seem to quite deliver.
The action sequences fail to produce any sort of depth and finesse, especially the final fight between FDR and Tuck. That could definitely have taken some pointers from Mr and Mrs Smith.
And within 15 minutes of the opening credits, it's easy to see where the story's going; proving to be just as formulaic a love story as rom-coms of films-past. So no big surprise that Lauren ends up with the reformed ladies man, even though the better guy is the Brit.
We never seem to fair well in mainstream American romances, do we?
But, for what it lacked in emotion and action, it made up for in comedy, as surprisingly, there were more than a few LOL moments. The most obvious funny points came from the vulgar mouth of Lauren's best friend played by Chelsea Handler. I can't remember the name of her character, but seeing as the comedienne pretty much plays herself, this is trivial fact.
Handler delivers her usual, funny but crass one liners, giving some comedic edge to the female portion of the cast, that pre-Bridesmaid would have been reduced to a few lines of pretty humour.
But it was Tom Hardy's comedic turn that inspired the most laughter, bringing that dry and unequivocally British humour to a film that could easily have gone down the cheesy American rom-com route.
For an actor who made his name playing the 'most violent prisoner in England' in Nicholas Winding Refn's Bronson, and, will soon appear as Bane in the eagerly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, this role is a break from Hardy's usual, gritty roles.
And as he explains on The Jonathan Ross Show that's exactly the reason he jumped on board:
"That was the appeal [of doing This Means War]. I hadn't done anything light or fun and I always take myself so seriously."
For Witherspoon and Pine the same cannot be said, with both of their CVs boasting more than a few romantic leads. But even though their characters end up together, it's the fraternal love between Hardy and Pine that you're routing for. It's no Segal/Rudd in I Love You Man but the British American connection is rather heart-warming to watch on screen.
OK... This film was never going to break the cinematic mould, what would you expect with the director of Charlie's Angel: Full Throttle behind the wheel? And for her second rom-com in a row (the last being the dismal How Do You Know), Reese Witherspoon does more to annoy than inspire a pep rally. But for 90 minutes, go into the cinema with your popcorn bucket half full; just watch, and when the lights come up maybe you'll discover a teeny tiny smile on your face. Maybe.
Verdict: 2.5/5 (extra 1/2 for Hardy!)
Opens nationwide 2 March
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