PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Movie Guy

February 17, 2012

Cupid strikes out with 'War'

— “This Means War” is being sold as an action-heavy romantic-comedy—a Valentine’s date night movie that men will actually want to see. Unfortunately, the action part of this movie is border-line incoherent, the comedy is mediocre at best and the romance dies because the leads have no chemistry.

At least the story has an interesting twist on its love triangle base. Two CIA agents (Chris Pine and Tom Hardy) fall for the same woman (Reese Witherspoon). The guys are best friends and coworkers, so they strike a gentleman’s agreement with regards to the courtship. They say “May the Best Man Win,” but in their hearts they are really thinking that “all’s fair in love and war.” The two agents employ all the resources of the CIA in order to get the girl and stymie the other guy. It’s basically an hour of voyeurism, stalking and abuse of the Patriot Act, but because it’s part of a romantic comedy, we’re supposed to accept this as light and frothy fun.

It’s not.

Directed by McG, the film plays like one of the MTV videos that made him famous way back when. This is all surface-level spectacle and quick cuts. The opening action scene in particular is so poorly shot and edited that it’s nearly impossible to tell what’s going on in the scene. The characters don’t fare any better, as they are mostly simplistic caricatures gussied up with Hollywood wardrobes and stylists. Reese Witherspoon (who I generally adore) begins as a sharp businesswoman, but ultimately ends up playing her role as if she were an insecure teenager. It’s not surprising that there aren’t any romantic sparks between her and either of the guys.

The closest that the film comes to actual chemistry is between the two men, who have a fun bromance thing going on. They are both soft puppy dogs hiding between a macho exterior and it’s a lot of fun to watch them banter and bicker about who’s going to get the girl. Perhaps it would have been a better film if they’d just ditched Witherspoon’s character and simply gone off with each other, but good luck selling that movie to the American public.

“This Means War” does have a few redeeming spots. Foul-mouthed comedienne Chelsea Handler is amusing, and a paintball sequence is genuinely funny. The actors look good and the film is mercifully fast-paced and short. That being said, you can’t expect a successful outcome if you make an action flick/romantic comedy without regular humor, thrilling action and actual romance. The film goes 0 for 3 on its main selling points. Sorry Cupid, but your latest Valentine movie is a strike out.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at smcbride@kboi2.com.

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