Trending
MOST READ
Best Hookah Bar

Best Hookah Bar

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Texas Law Leaves Abortion Out of Reach for Many Women

Texas Law Leaves Abortion Out of Reach for Many Women

News: Texas’ sweeping abortion law has already eliminated all abortion clinics south of San Antonio, and the last clinic west of the city... By Alexa Garcia-Ditta 8/27/2014
Best Karaoke Night

Best Karaoke Night

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Beaches Be Trippin\': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Beaches Be Trippin': Five Texas Coast Spots Worth the Drive

Arts & Culture: Let’s face it, most of us Lone Stars view the Texas coast as a poor man’s Waikiki. Hell, maybe just a poor man’s Panama Beach — only to be used... By Callie Enlow 7/10/2013
10 Incredible Destinations to Consider for a Semester Abroad

10 Incredible Destinations to Consider for a Semester Abroad

College Issue 2014: Madrid. The capital of Spain, Madrid is the perfect combination of metropolitan lifestyle and Spanish tradition. Home to the royal family, the famous... By Briana Denham 8/18/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Screens & Tech

'This Means War' has a perfectly likeable cast, delivers an anorexic action-comedy

Photo: Courtesy photos, License: N/A

Courtesy photos

Reese Witherspoon and Tom Hardy, one of her two candidates in This Means War.


Chris Pine (of J.J. Abrams' Star Trek reboot) and Tom Hardy (Inception, Warrior) are two of the most appealing actors working; Pine's charm is one of cocksure swagger and false emotional bravado, a throwback to the Will Smith (one of the film's producers) "look good doing it" model. Hardy's appeal is tougher to pin down, but no less present; his hulking physique (which should serve him well as the villain Bane in this summer's The Dark Knight Rises) seems at odds with the suave, British cool and trouty lips that soften him just enough to keep us guessing. (One sneak-preview attendee commented that Hardy was her favorite, and it's "too bad he's gay," a frequent assumption the actor has, wisely or not, battled in the press.)

When Reese Witherspoon's Lauren finds herself dating Pine's smooth-talking CIA agent FDR Foster as well as his partner-in-espionage Tuck (Hardy), she naturally recognizes their respective appeal and elegantly dissects it: FDR has "tiny hands" and Tuck is "British."

Yes, This Means War is that dumb. Worse, it thinks you are, too.

When the two spies get wise to their respective wooing, a "war" breaks out for Lauren's affections. Tuck and FDR bug Lauren's home, install surveillance and heat sensors at strategic points, and keep a GPS-enabled eye on each others' dates. They learn her interests and go to great expense to cater to them, leading to dream-like (in her eyes) outings to an art warehouse, a trapeze exercise, and a paintball tournament.

Still unsure of her heart's desire, Lauren — with the help of a standard horny housewife BFF (Chelsea Handler) — calls for a "sex tiebreaker," upping the stakes for FDR and Tuck enough to potentially destroy their friendship and, one would think considering their felonious antics, their careers. Meanwhile, the international villain (Til Schweiger) the pair goes up against in the bland "action" opener, has arrived in L.A. and is bent on ending them for good.

For all of its slick locations, This Means War may be the most claustrophobic studio film you'll see this year. The end credits suggest a cast of dozens, but director McG (Joseph McGinty Nichol, Charlie's Angels) shows no interest in establishing supporting characters or even extras. Everyone not named Pine, Hardy, or Witherspoon is shoved to the corners of the frame while the set decoration is minimalist to the point of hostility — with the exception of several glaring specifics that serve no purpose. Why let the camera revel in FDR's swimming-pool ceiling (a Chekhov's gun if I've ever seen one) if nobody ever crashes through it? Why, when Tuck and FDR finally have the knockdown, homoerotic fistfight we've been waiting for, set it in a fancy restaurant if the patrons simply disappear into the ether as soon as the first punch is thrown?

This Means War is credited to three writers (one, Simon Kinberg, also wrote this film's clear source of inspiration, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), but it feels like it was constructed by a committee with focus-group worksheets in hand. It's been so thoroughly stripped of anything remotely offensive that one hopes they simply threw the story out with the bathwater. The alternative is too depressing (and probably accurate) to ponder: There was never a story to begin with; merely a pitch and a cast. •

★★ (out of 5 stars)

This Means War

Dir. McG; writ. Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg,
Marcus Gautesen; feat. Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy (PG-13)

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus