Screenplay: Timothy Dowling, Marcus Gautesen
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Hadler
Rating: 3 stars
I’m going to be honest with you; I’m a sucker for Reese Witherspoon rom-coms. From the tacky outfits in Legally Blonde and nausiating one liners in Sweet Home Alabama, to Just Like Heaven‘s uplifting music score, any film starring Miss Witherspoon has always been an enjoyable one, contrary to the somewhat obvious recipe for disaster. Everytime I reluctantly admit to gushing at these films to strangers, I’m almost always met with the same reaction: surprise, followed by nervous giggling and blushing. Admit it, regardless of age, gender or political affiliation, we all watch these films, and secretly own them on DVD for those special nights in.
This Means War proves to be an original twist on the classic Pride and Prejudice plotline – Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon) finds herself dating two undercover CIA agents (Hardy and Pine) at the advice of her best friend Trish (Chelsea Hadler), and is met with the choice of picking one over the other. The only difference in this modern adaptation, is that there is no obvious Mr. Darcy in this scenario; both FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) turn out to be any woman’s wet dream, despite FDR’s initial hard-shell exterior and Casanova personality.
So why the measely three star rating, you may ask? Unfortunately the film is not completely made up of Witherspoon’s charm, the male leads’ topless torsos on show, and Hadler’s zesty one-liners, “Trish, I think I’m going to hell”…”Don’t worry. If you’re going to hell, I’ll come pick you up”. As the story revolves around two extremely competitive, CIA agent compadres, the film is transformed from a standard rom com into an action-packed blockbuster. Unfortunately for its ridiculously famous director McG (the name behind pop culture classics of the last decade, Charlie’s Angels, The O.C., and Supernatural), the action in This Means War is disappointing at best. Bad CGI explosions, tacky fight scenes with dollar bills circling in the wind, and the ridiculous stereotype of German villains (Til Schweiger plays crazy German mastermind, Heinrich) caused prized several involuntary groans from the audience during the screening. As the famous saying goes, ‘stick to what you know’ – perhaps it’s best not to mix romance with action after all. Or maybe not just with one of the Reese Witherspoon variety.
At least one thing’s clear; in spite of all the poorly-executed action scenes, this film is definitely worth watching, if only to find out who Lauren ends up picking. Contrary to popular belief, the choice is not an obvious one, and two alternative endings were filmed and later deliberated post-production. Whether Lauren makes the right choice, is of course up to the viewer, and I refuse to spoil the ending for you. Go see the film, or wait until the DVD is released – we all know you’ll put it on your Christmas list anyway.