This Means War Movie Review
Ever wonder what it would be like if someone took two hours of Punked clips and wrote a script around them? Now you can find out.
Ah, McG. I knew one day you would resurface dead in my sights like the bloated corpse of a cow drowned in a stagnant pond. In case you are unaware of Mr. “I’m too cool to have a name”‘s qualifications as a terrible movie director check out the rant I want off on him in my description for this Terminator: Salvation t-shirt from the Sci Fi T Shirts. He mostly does mediocre television. In fact the only other movie credit I am finding is Charlies Angels Full Throttle, so you know he is qualified.
While watching this (for lack of a better word) movie there was a distinctly familiar greasy smell to it, like the odor lingering in the family bathroom 45 minutes after your grandfather used it, and as the credits rolled I realized it was the ridiculously improbable action and refusal to do the slightest bit of actual research that is McG‘s signature style. And with that I sharpened my claws and dove into my keyboard.
Fortunately McG has thrown me a lot of chum to chew on. I won’t say this movie is not entertaining. It definitely has some funny moments. However, the scripts looks and feels like it was written by a 12 year old who has seen a couple romantic movies but secretly thinks his English teacher is going to show up to school with the hots for him (or her). It is a true mash up of genres: a healthy mix of really bad action film with a really bad (and creepy) romantic comedy.
I think it safe to dismiss the action plot entirely, as in terms of doing anything for the script I think an organ grinders monkey armed with a minigun would have been about as believable and a hell of a lot cuter. 30 seconds research or a high school diploma would have told McG that the US Central Intelligence Agency has no jurisdiction inside the United States and furthermore does not have fabulous Los Angeles offices that look awfully like a multi million dollar Apple store. Another 10 seconds research (that is literally what it took me thanks to Google) would have told him that most CIA agents make between $30-60K a year and specifically do not live like rock star millionaires in LA (one guy had a swimming pool for a ceiling in his fabulous bachelor pad). I don’t know if any kind of research would have told him that the CIA does not look kindly on wasting massive amounts of taxpayer money stalking girlfriends, but an ounce of common sense would have.
What action there was was laughably ridiculous. Two guys apparently can take out any number of armed men in a crowded club with no collateral damage. There was some kind of bad guy (Til Schwiger-Inglorious Basturds, Rabbit Without Ears, Knockin’ on Heavens Door) who wants revenge for the death of his brother or something, but that whole story thread only appears periodically and reluctantly, like someone suddenly remembering to take the medicine they hate for a social disease they wish they could forget about. The story focuses on the romance between Reese Witherspoon (Legally Blonde, Walk the Line, Water for Elephants), a successful product testing executive (not sure what kind of executive job lets you play with a flamethrower, but sign me up) who in spite of being insanely hot is bitterly single. She runs into her ex with his new fiance and suddenly feels the need for romance. Meanwhile CIA operatives and best friends (and possibly related somehow. The story was vague) FDR (Chris Pine-Star Trek, Unstoppable, Just My Luck) and soon-to-be-Bane Tuck (Tom Hardy-Layer Cake, Inception, Warrior, RocknRolla) are both single. Tuck opts to check out online dating and sees a post Reese’s best friend posted for her. They meet up and really hit it off. Meanwhile, FDR is trolling local video stores to pick up bimbos (he’s supposed to be the sleazy ladies man). He meets up with Reese and attempts to pick her up. Somehow in spite of being single for years and so inept in the world of dating she goes to her married best friend for advice her character (Lauren, for the record) suddenly sees right through him and gives him a lecture on what a dirtbag he is.
At that point the movie takes a turn down Creepy Lane (and later merges onto the Creepy Onramp to travel down the Creepy Memorial Freeway) as both CIA operatives make massive illegal abuses of their powers to find out what she does. Tuck is the (slightly) more innocent one and is only kind of stalking her, while FDR is literally stalking her, going to her work to more or less browbeat her into dating him. The two guys find out about it and opt to compete for her affection without letting her know they know each other.
About that time the speed limit on the Creepy Memorial Freeway goes from 55 to 75. They both break into her home to find out more. Each of them assign other agents (who obviously have nothing better to do. Threats from foreign organizations is so overrated) to follow her and bug her apartment with both cameras and listening devices (what part of this really says romance?). They listen in on her talking to her best friend and from there construct complete lies in order to woo her. FDR, on hearing that she likes artist Gustav Klimt, takes her to a private showing where he has another expert whisper facts into his ear. Tuck learns she loves some kind of car (the type escapes me and I don’t care enough to look it up) and takes her driving in one. Upon learning she thinks he is shallow and self centered (a fairly accurate perception in my opinion) FDR pretends to volunteer at a animal shelter and adopts a dog, while Tuck, upon learning he is too safe and not dangerous enough, takes her to play paintball where he beats the hell out of a bunch of kids.
Bottom line, when at the end of the movie she does choose one of these guys the entire relationship will be built upon an entire foundation of lies. I know I’m not an expert on women, but is this the kind of romance story you all want to see?
Anyway, its at this point that the movie actually gets kind of funny, as Tuck and FDR totally try to screw each other up. I will admit to laughing several times and were I to take these episodes out of context (you know, kind of like an aforementioned TV show that rhymes with “dunked”) I probably would have enjoyed the hell out of it.
The stars. In spite of the horrible script and direction, the cast was actually really talented and did the best they could do. Unfortunately they were all trying to lace their shoes with wet spaghetti. One star. I honestly did laugh at some of the hijinks. One star. In spite of the blizzard of black holes I am about to inundate the film with, it was somewhat entertaining. Two stars. Four stars total.
The black holes. A complete lack of research and fact checking from the writers or director. I understand the need to suspend disbelief in a movie, but would it have really been that hard or damaged the story in any way if they had substituted the letters “FBI” for “CIA”? Or made the field office slightly more functional and less amazing? One black hole. In spite of a talented cast of decent actors, all the main characters were pretty two dimensional. One black hole. There was literally more chemistry on screen between Chris Pine and Tom Hardy than there was at any time between Reese and either of the two guys. Honestly, the romance scenes looked like a little girl pressing the lips of her Ken and Barbie dolls together. One black hole. The whole illegal abuse of power and super stalking thing. Two black holes. The fact that the action plot literally went nowhere and added nothing. One black hole. The action scenes were so dumb and ridiculous that I wanted to start something with a stranger (or possibly the projectionist) on the way out just to be reminded of what an actual fight looks like. One black hole. In the end, Lauren chose the sleazier and faker of the two instead of doing what any rational woman should have done and booted them both out with a restraining order pinned to their shirts. One black hole. Overall a stupid and fake story that I found really annoying. One black hole. Total: nine black holes.
A total of five black holes. Suck it McG. I said you were an incompetent director when you screwed up Terminator: Salvation and I am happy to see that time has not improved your skills. Is this movie worth seeing on any level? Yeah, I guess so. It is funny at points. None of the camera work really needs a big screen so feel free to wait until you can see it at home. I can pretty much guarantee that if you get drunk and/or stoned before and during this movie you will laugh your ass off and probably think it’s great. If you see it sober you will probably feel like you just lost 98 minutes of your life and run home to write a bitter review for it. Date movie? Maybe. If your date is into a rom com built around the Three Stooges, can look past stalking that would terrify her in a drama, or just wants some brainless entertainment it might do. However, there is very little chance you look better than either Chris Pine or Tom Hardy so you will most likely lose a lot to the comparison factor.
Thanks for reading. If I get a chance I might still see Mysterious Island, but there is a pretty good chance that film might slip my net. This has been a weekend of mediocre movies. Warhammer tournament tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @nerdkungfu or send comments or questions to email@example.com. Of course, feel free to post comment here. As long as you keep it clean I will most likely allow it and try to respond. Talk to you soon.