This Means WarThursday 01 Mar 2012
Kicked the length and breadth of North America by reviewers, This Means War opened a disastrous fifth at the US box office and won't feature in any career retrospectives of stars Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy and Chris Pine. But as an example of how a good date movie idea can go south, it's a comedy every A-lister should see.
Pine and Hardy play FDR and Tuck - best friend CIA agents who are brilliant at espionage and useless at romance. A disastrous mission finds them grounded (that's actually the word used) but while things have gone south professionally, they're looking up in matters of the heart.
Trouble is they've both fallen for the same woman: misfit product tester Lauren (Witherspoon). Tuck and FDR behave maturely about this dating dilemma for roughly five minutes and then the egos go into overdrive, with both agreeing that they'll continue seeing Lauren and let her decide who's 'Mr Right'. The next day, however, fair play has gone out the window and sabotage is the name of the game. And Lauren's no saint, either. Egged on by married friend Trish (the scene-stealing Handler - this lady needs her own comedy), she leaves her conscience in the cloakroom and continues seeing both men. You know the rest.
This wanted to be Bridget Jones stepping out with James Bond, but there's not enough in terms of guns, great gags or gooeyness to please fans of either icon and there's the suspicion throughout that the other half of the film is clogging up a hard drive in an editing suite somewhere and isn't on the screen.
Evidence? Well, there's a villain, but he's such a non-event - appearing in one scene at the start, then one near the middle and then at the end - that you actually forget he's part of the plot. An actress of the calibre of Angela Bassett ends up in a walk-on role. The pacing is too hyper and proper back stories appear to be too much hassle (just why is Englishman Tuck with the CIA?). As for chemistry, there's far more between Witherspoon and Pine, than her and Hardy - he's just not the type of actor for this kind of movie. And you're not that type of paying punter.