wogma rating: Watch when on TV/online (?)
Unlike director McG's earlier series Charlie’s Angels - that works because of its sassy leading ladies and the exhibited fun element – This Means War unfortunately only had its humor and action to fall back on. The film has a few funny moments, but the action in the film is drab and can be done away with. Watch it if you have the interest for some puerile entertainment, but be warned.Read more
Romantic-Action-Comedy to me only sounded like a mash. So when I heard, that was genre of McG’s next film (director of the Charlie’s Angels series) This Means War, I was worried. Two things could have happened here: this film could go the same way that most frivolous films go with really good actors. Case in point: No Strings Attached with Natalie Portman right after Black Swan. Nobody can really deduce why serious actors chose to make this genre jump. Or one could also expect actors like Reese Witherspoon and Tom Hardy to salvage the film.
This Means War has an aftertaste of the Charlie’s Angels films and a bit of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are CIA agents (and best friends) who happen to fall for the same girl, Lauren (Witherspoon).
Let's ignore for a moment that Pine and Hardy look nothing like CIA agents, what with male-model type looks and the swanky apartments they live in. As compensation you'd expect some distracting entertainment on their part. But apart from a sprinkling of witty banter, every bit of one-upmanship that they indulge in is borderline creepy and voyeuristic because of the way it's done - unlike the secretive and swift demeanor in which CIA agents act (or what popular culture would have us believe. However, the film does pick up pace in bits, picking comic elements in their fight for love and the leading men are rather adorable in their "May the best spy win" rut.
Lauren ofcourse, is unaware and rather cute in a regular Reese Witherspoon way (see: Legally Blonde). You would think since she’s done many rom-coms, Witherspoon would be able to breeze through this role, but for some reason all three actors perform extremely laboriously.
The worst of the lot is Tom Hardy, who is a bad casting option for this film. I found myself regularly zoning out, and making callous references to his better films (Warrior, Inception). The film also has a real villain, Heinrich (Til Schweiger), who seems rather inconsequential in the larger scheme of things.
The film categorically revolves around a glorifying set of sequences where Pine and Hardy fight it out for the lady. The action sequences are loud, and by virtue of that it does catch your attention. But in retrospect, they are also very plain and rely on the sound design to jolt you as opposed to the visuals.
Having offered a critique though, I think it’s only fair to inform you that the kids who had come to watch the movie were having a ball. Evidently the humor in the film was relatable to them and there were moments when, due to sheer peer pressure, I did laugh out loud. There are some funny moments and punch dialogues (and really, that much can be expected with a bunch of good actors in the film). This Means War is not as sassy and fun as the first Charlie’s Angels movie was, but it’s not a waste of your time either. You might just enjoy yourself.
This review is by guest reviewer Swetha Ramakrishnan. Swetha Ramakrishnan is currently living and working in Mumbai. She's a self-confessed film enthusiast and can most likely be found talking to anyone and everyone about popular cinema and her love for SRK. Swetha Ramakrishnan also blogs at http://swetharamakrishnan.blogspot.com/.
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