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Movie Review: This Means War

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Chris Pine and Tom Hardy are hardly household names. While fanboys may be more inclined to know Pine as J.J. Abrams’ Captain Kirk in his Star Trek universe, they also know Hardy as Bane, Batman’s arch nemesis in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming The Dark Knight Rises. Hardy has also popped up in everything from Warrior to Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to Inception and Bronson. Now Pine and Hardy, along with the help of writer Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Sherlock Holmes, the upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), are keeping bromance alive and well in this weekend’s This Means War.

In This Means War, Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine) are CIA operatives who are supposed to be on a covert operation in Hong Kong to capture the Heinrich brothers. After FDR flings one of the brothers off the roof of a skyscraper, the still living Heinrich brother (Til Schweiger, the criminally underused Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz of Inglourious Basterds) is now out for revenge. Back in Los Angeles, Collins (Angela Bassett), points this out to Tuck and FDR, grounding them in the process. Now the two have more time on their hands than they know what to do with. Tuck bides his time taking his son Joe (John Paul Ruttan) to karate school and trying to woo back his ex-wife Katie (Abigail Spencer).

Meanwhile, FDR prowls the local video store looking for “one night rentals.” It’s after Tuck joins an online dating site that he meets Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). FDR tries to warn Tuck that the girls on those dating sites “either pee standing up or are on our watch list.” But Lauren works at a consumer reports style office and has absolutely zero luck in the dating pool, probably largely due to the advice of her best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Of course Tuck and Lauren immediately hit it off but not before she heads off to the video store around the corner where she runs into FDR. Now Tuck and FDR are in a gentleman’s agreement to take down Lauren’s heart while Heinrich may be lurking about in the shadows.

Originally settling for Valentine’s Day weekend, strong word-of-mouth got the film bumped up to a well deserved Valentine’s Day release. Unfortunately, it has now been held back to today, February 17. Director McG may be known for his bombastics (both Charlie’s Angels films and Terminator Salvation), but I’ve always preferred his stylized form compared to someone else we all know who loves to blow stuff up every five minutes. McG lets the comedy reign supreme and the rapport between Pine and Hardy is immense. They almost have more chemistry together than either of them with Witherspoon. Thankfully, that’s what the film is actually all about. And a seemingly steady finger on the pulse of releasing studio Twentieth Century Fox’s current slate of immediate releases. There’s references to both Star Wars and Titanic which are seeing re-releases (both in 3-D no less), but there’s also a few great nods to both Star Trek and Inception. Timothy Dowling (Role Models) may be credited first, but this thing has Kinberg’s relationship-psychosis fingerprints all over it.

This Means War was originally deemed an R-rating but was sent back with no edits for appeal, lost the appeal, and then was reedited for a PG-13 rating. A well deserved rating here as there’s nothing within to make it any worse than any other film with this rating. While Handler may be the one spouting off some of the more profane moments, the film has a whole lot of heart. A few trips to Nana’s (Rosemary Harris) house make sure of that. And it’s sure nice to see Witherspoon earning back her crown as one of America’s sweethearts. Who wouldn’t want to fight over her in a movie? In the end, bromance thankfully wins the day. And in a film that could have been geared more towards the female crowd, ala The Vow, it’s nice to see something like This Means War infiltrating the Valentine’s Day weekend, giving everyone something to see without feeling obligated.

Photos courtesy Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

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About Cinenerd

A Utah based writer, born and raised in Salt Lake City, UT for better and worse. Cinenerd has had an obsession with film his entire life, finally able to write about them since 2009, and the only thing he loves more are his wife and their two wiener dogs (Beatrix Kiddo and Pixar Animation). He is accredited with the Sundance Film Festival.