This Means War

When you plop down your ten bucks for a movie ticket, what are you paying for? Sure, it depends on the movie– but ultimately, it’s just about escaping for two hours, right? Laugh if you’re supposed to laugh, cry if it’s a tearjerker– pretty basic stuff.

Sometimes the movies are smartly done and might actually change the way you look at things. Other times, you just get a chance to sit back and have a good time. Either way, it’s all about correctly answering the question Russell Crowe asked so nicely in Gladiator, “Are you not entertained?”

This Means War won’t dazzle you, and not even the screenwriters would call it ‘smart’, but for what it’s supposed to be, it’s fits the bill nicely.

Billed as an action/romantic comedy, the movie pits partnered CIA agents Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) against each other as they duke it for the affections of Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).

Of course, it all starts innocently enough. Lauren’s brash and dirty sister Trish (Chelsea Handler) signs Lauren up on a dating website. Tuck finds the ad, and they go out. FDR, meanwhile, is all set to act as wingman, but Tuck calls him off, and when the date ends, Lauren and FDR innocently bump into each other.

Before long she’s dating both guys, unaware (of course) that they know each other. The guys, though, turn it into a gentlemen’s competition (with ground rules, even), which quickly spirals out of control as each takes full advantage of the CIA’s vast resources to sabotage the other; wire taps, tranquilizer darts, and satellite surveillance all feature prominently.

Director McG (sorry, but isn’t it about time he use his grown-up name?) has put together a loud, sometimes sloppy, movie that’s as slick and mindless as anything Michael Bay has ever done. But somehow it works. And the script by Timothy Dowling (Just Go With It) and Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes) is full of truly funny moments that help you largely forget the rest of the utter silliness.

Witherspoon is her usual sweet, charming self here, and it’s easy to see why these two guys would go to such great lengths to win her love, but the real chemistry (of the non-romantic kind) comes courtesy of Pine and Hardy. This Means War is at its best when the two fellas share the screen together, playing off each other in a super-escalated game of one-upsmanship.

There are certainly moments throughout when eye-rolling is more than appropriate, but by and large it’s just a fun bit of escapism.

Yes, you will be entertained.

3.5/5 stars