Sunday 4 March 2012

Review: This Means War

Year: 2012
Director: McG
Screenplay: Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine

Synopsis is here

This weekend for me has, unfortunately, been a disastrous double bill of recent features that have made me cry out for improvement. The twitterverse, blogosphere and forums keep crying out for original movies to be made and I fully understand where they are coming from. However, when the original films being made are as vapid, predictable and bland as this, then I will happily enjoy the retreads, rehashes and reimaginings. An American remake of a good movie, still often has decent material to back it up. This Means War is the sort of sub-par feature film; that has the writers of HBO laughing their arses off. Please note, they're not laughing because the jokes in this film are any good.

In fact not much of This Means War is any good. It is a film in which one of the CIA agents; FDR (Pine), breaks and enters the love interest, Lauren (Witherspoon) house to gain knowledge of her, obtains said knowledge by staring at it full on in the face, then promptly forgets in pretty much the next scene. Other reviews have mentioned the gross invasion of privacy in such scenes. I'm not particularly worried because it appears that these seemingly young, fit and healthy men have a shocking case of alzheimers.

It's not as if the females get a fairer shake of the rattle. While on a date with FDR, Lauren leaves his living room and Tuck (Hardy) shoots FDR with a tranquillizer dart. FDR pulls the dart out but falls to the sofa asleep. Lauren re-enters the room and is annoyed that her date is asleep because she wanted to get laid. What annoys me is that she can't see the massive dart resting beside her date. It's not hard to see, and a cut away of the dart rolling away would cover the tracks. The film plays out as if all the audience are affected by extreme ADD.

Small yet frustrating factors aside, This Means War fails for me simply because it doesn't know what to do with it's young and talented cast. Witherspoon is an actress with a Meg Ryan cuteness and a huge amount of comic potential that is wasted in scene after scene. Tom Hardy looks like he's waiting for a phone call from Nicolas Winding Refn while Chris Pine has had the charisma vaccumed right out of him. None of the dialogue sparkles for any of them and none of them are given any real time or space to show that every one of these actors can actually be quite amusing.

But then again this is a McG film, therefore all that matters is throwing as much at possible at the screen and hoping it sticks (See either Charlie's Angels film for example). The Micheal Bay-lite director once again gives us an ugly looking film (I have no idea how he gets that hideous colour scheme) that misunderstands overediting with being kinetic. Yet again the modern audience is give action sequences with little to no geography but what does it matter as long as people are seen dying and cars explode. Come to think of it, these CIA agents kill a lot of people needlessly in this sweet, harmless romantic comedy don't they? But then again such things matter in this as much as a coherent screenplay.

I think one of the worse things about This Means War, is the fact that the film constantly references films and filmmakers better than itself and it's creator. Watching McG imitate Martin Scorsese's Copacabana sequence from Goodfellas is an unfortunate tease, reminding me I could have been having more fun at home with something more entertaining.