Monday, October 15, 2012

This Means War (2012)

FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck Henson (Tom Hardy) are best friends, and both men work together, as highly skilled and dangerous CIA agents. Henson and FDR are sent to Hong Kong on a mission, because they must stop a powerful and feared international criminal. Heinrich (Til Schweiger) wants to acquire a deadly weapon of mass destruction, and after a secret meeting at a party, he almost walks away with the powerful weapon. But Henson and Foster spring into action, and Heinrich loses his deadly weapon. Henson and Foster derail Heinrich’s sinister plans, the weapon of mass destruction won’t cause any damage, but during the chaos, Heinrich’s brother, Jonas dies. Heinrich blames the death of his brother on Henson and Foster. He wants revenge in the worst way, and Heinrich will stop at nothing to kill Henson and Foster.

Foster and Henson eventually return to the US, but Heinrich isn’t their main focus anymore. Both men are infatuated with Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon), but Lauren begins to date both men at the same time, and this causes some obvious problems. Lauren is a perky product testing executive, who wants to give up on dating, but Tuck and FDR change everything. Neither man is willing to back down, and both agents are willing to fight for Lauren, as they engage in a deadly “Who’s the better man?” battle.

Ugh, I really wanted to like this film, but I can’t give This Means War a positive score. Hardy and Pine do form a very likeable duo, and Reese Witherspoon does provide an enjoyable performance, but This Means War fails miserably as a romantic action comedy film.

This Means War tries to be one of those awfully good movies, that are fun to watch, but there’s one huge problem: This Means War IS awful, but for the most part, this film is not fun to watch. This Means War is a very preposterous film. Tuck and FDR constantly abuse their powers, as they try to gather more information about Lauren’s life, and both men will do anything to sabotage each other’s dates with Lauren. Tuck and FDR constantly use CIA technology (wiretaps, surveillance cameras, etc.) to track Lauren, and somehow their boss, Collins (Angela Bassett) NEVER notices any of this. This Means War is loaded with a good amount of far fetched scenarios, that caused a few facepalms for me, but everything just gets worse towards the end.


Towards the end of the film, Lauren is stuck in a tricky situation. She’s having lunch with Tuck, but FDR shows up, because Heinrich was recently spotted in the US. Tuck and FDR know their dating the same woman, but Lauren isn’t aware of their friendship. Lauren starts to panic, but she goes to the bathroom to calm down, and she tries to figure out an exit strategy. Meanwhile, Tuck and FDR start throwing insults at each other, and eventually, they get into a fight. Tuck and FDR completely destroy the restaurant during their fight, and they actually cause a fire. Lauren walks in after the fight, and she accidentally learns the truth about Tuck and FDR’s relationship. Lauren now knows both men are friends, and for some asinine reason, this upsets her, as she leaves the restaurant? Ummm, YOU are dating two guys at the same time, but that’s okay? The Lauren character has no right to pull the morality card, and she really can’t point the finger at anyone, because she’s just as bad as Tuck and FDR. Oh, and Lauren’s character is completely oblivious to her surroundings in this scene. The restaurant is in ruins, there’s a small fire behind her, but she doesn’t seem to notice any of this, because she’s still upset about the whole “two friends dating her at the same time” stuff.

**End spoilers**

The restaurant scene is bad enough, but things get worse during the final showdown with Heinrich.

Heinrich has taken Lauren and her friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler) hostage. During a car chase, FDR manages to free Trish, as he shoots one of the tires on her car, and Trish’s car miraculously lands in a lake afterwards. Trish is safe, Tuck and FDR quickly rescue Lauren, but Heinrich still wants revenge for his brother’s death. Tuck, FDR, and Lauren are stuck at the end of an unfinished highway. They’re out of road, there’s nowhere to run, and Heinrich is speeding towards them with his car. Death seems inevitable, but the very knowledgeable product testing executive has one solution: shoot out the headlights? Lauren recognizes the model of the car, and damaged headlights will trigger the airbags. Tuck and FDR shoot out the headlights, the airbags deploy, Heinrich’s car flies off of the highway, and he dies in a fiery explosion.

This Means War features way too many over the top moments, but the final showdown was just ridiculous. The bad guy is about to get his revenge, but headlights cause Heinrich’s downfall? Are you serious? The big battle at the end was incredibly lame and silly, and I just couldn’t get into it.
**End spoilers**

Having suspension of disbelief is one thing, but This Means War doesn’t know when to let up. They pushed everything too far, and the far fetched and over the top moments just get worse, as this film progresses.

Also, the plot for this film can feel confusing. Are Tuck and FDR actually trying to locate and capture Heinrich? Or is this film supposed to be about a whacky and wild love triangle? They really don’t put any focus on the “we need to stop Heinrich” storyline, and Schweiger’s character just becomes an afterthought, as the story progresses. Heinrich is supposed to be this cold-blooded and dangerous criminal, and he is trying to kill Tuck and FDR, but they put so much focus on the Lauren situation, and I actually forgot about this character at one point. Heinrich is supposed to be an important piece of the puzzle here, and he was the main antagonist in this film, but this character didn’t receive enough screen time. The Heinrich character is mentioned every now and then, but still, the love triangle gets an overwhelming majority of focus here, and this storyline really did overshadow Heinrich. Were they actually trying to make the audience forget about Heinrich? I couldn’t escape this feeling, and the story for this film is a complete mess.

This Means War wanted to be that fun and mindless romantic action comedy, but this film didn’t provide any fun for me. This Means War is a ridiculous mess, and the over the top action scenes almost gave me a headache. Hardy, Pine, and Witherspoon did deliver some very solid performances, and they did bring some laughs out of me, but they couldn’t save this film. It’s a shame, because their performances did provide the majority of the highlights in this film. And Chelsea Handler deserves her fair share of credit, because she was hilarious, as Lauren’s pushy and obnoxious best friend. As far as Til Schweiger goes, he wasn’t bad, but Heinrich is just your typical foreign villain with a heavy accent.

I thought This Means War could be something unique. Well, I was wrong. Very wrong.

Final Rating: 3/10

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