This Means War is the latest in the bizarre sub-genre of the romcom pseudo-spy thrillers. Think of that awful Ashton Kutcher/Katherine Heigl vehicle Killers. In this case, we get two spie, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, who are CIA agents (why the obviously British Hardy’s working for the U.S. government is never explained — perhaps it’s an exchange program?) and overall “bad dudes,” who end up dating the same woman, played by Reese Witherspoon. The majority of the film consists of Pine’s FDR and Hardy’s Tuck using the full power of the CIA, like hidden cameras, wiretaps, spy planes, in order to vie for the affections of Witherspoon’s Lauren, all the while trying to keep their life-long friendship intact. There are a few problems with this approach, namely that I can’t see why anyone would put so much energy into fighting over this woman. And it goes beyond her calling The Lady Vanishes “second-tier Hitchcock” (or maybe that’s just the deal-breaker for me), but never, at any point, does her character exhibit anything resembling a personality. Of course, there’s also the argument that these beefy, perfectly coiffed guys are more interested in each other than some woman. There’s a subplot in place involving an evil Russian (Til Schweiger) out for revenge on our heroic spies, but it’s really there make the whole spy angle work, and to let our boys indulge in a bit of action star muscle flexing. It’s all quite tiresome really, as This Means War comes across as the mid-life crisis of action films. It yearns so much to be hip and stylish, while having no clue how that translates in 2012.
Writer: Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg
Producer: Robert Simonds, Will Smith, James Lassiter and Simon Kinberg
Cast: Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Laura Vandervoort, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, Angela Bassett and David Koechner