(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 17 March 2012, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy
Rating: 1 star
What can you expect from a movie where one of the leads is called FDR, the director’s called McG, and the female lead has a BFF whose BFF is her fat husband? Well, This Means War proves that you can go in with zero expectations, and still come out disappointed.
Formulaic rom-com, I can handle. But formulaic rom-com with bad puns, macho poses, shootouts in casinos, metrosexual intelligence agents, dumb blondes, a villain called Heinrich, and a sidekick called Ivan Sokoloff, I can’t. Especially when it has a blue-eyed playboy saying, “Mistakes make us who we are”, and a ditzy best friend chiming, “Only one in twenty girls lands up in the trunk of a car on a date”.
FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are joined at the hip. They botch up CIA operations that don’t make any sense, and as punishment, are allowed to browse the internet for free all day and deploy hi-tech surveillance equipment for personal use. See, that’s how a woman would run the CIA. This woman, Collins (Angela Bassett) is obsessed with finding a German bad boy (Til Shweiger), who’s obsessed with killing the men who killed his brother. These men are obsessed with Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).
When a bad rom-com meets a bad action thriller, it usually has terrible screenplay. So, when Lauren and FDR speak of “choosing movies” when they mean “choosing men” and “firing up grills” when they mean “firing up women”, one refrains from sighing. But the asides on perfumes and suits, the predictable punch lines, an ending which one scents from a mile away, and an epilogue that stinks from a mile away push the movie to the nether regions of forgettable. I mean, do you really want to watch a film where “enter the premises” is used metaphorically?
Then, there’s the casting. So, Reese Witherspoon was once the next Meg Ryan. But Reese Witherspoon with wrinkles can only really carry off being older sister to one of these two men. Hell, their boss is hotter than she is. Doesn’t help that her attire and mannerisms are reminiscent of Tina Fey’s Liz from 30 Rock.
The only part I found amusing in the film was a clip from Titanic that plays on FDR’s TV. And that’s because Titanic never fails to make me laugh – not since I saw that Dhanalaxmi-Velu spoof on YouTube.
The Verdict: There’s an exchange in the film where Lauren asks Tuck whether he’s killed anyone with his bare hands, and he grins, “Not this week”. Well, I won’t be saying that if I meet anyone who worked on this film.