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5th March, 2012

This Means War

Director: McG  Run Time: 97 mins

Reviewed by Delme Stephenson  

Okay. Stay with me on this one (seriously). Chris Pine and Tom Hardy play two best friends who are also expertly trained CIA agents who happen to fall for Reece Witherspoon’s corporate executive.Once both men discover they are going out with the same woman each man tries to unearth her predilections and sabotage the others romantic endeavours by using the vast array of CIA resources at their disposal. Unfortunately for a lot of critics this is not the Citizen Kane of espionage rom-com’s (most commonly referred to as ‘Charade’). It’s far from perfect, but it is an enjoyable dose of popcorn entertainment that understands exactly what it is and actually (surprise!) exceeds in its delivery. The critical backlash that this film has attracted is simply and totally unwarranted. Maybe this means war?  

This feature was not engineered for the amusement of our critical guardians and so the current consensus on Rotten Tomatoes states that the film is “A Career lowlight for all three of its likeable stars…clumsily edited, and neither romantic nor funny”. So I guess that all the audience members at the viewing I went to were either drugged vagrants on laughing gas who haven’t seen any form of cinematic entertainment in decades or actual people that seemingly enjoyed what they were watching. Perhaps, like me, the audience saw a knowingly implausible plot pulled together by three charismatic leads with a director capable of creating a diverting fast-paced adventure.

Critics when given the opportunity love to concoct sharp and scathing reviews for films which they dislike. They store witty sentences in anticipation for the flawed, which I have to admit are often very funny and often very perceptive. Yet with ‘This Means War’ those tactics are somewhat unfair. Yes, it’s directed by McG (stop it) who also directed the last two ‘Charlie’s Angels’ features (I know, I know) but surely it sidesteps the mistakes of the Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz vehicle ‘Knight and Day’ which was partly inspired by Roger Moore’s brand of Bond theatrics which dominated the multiplexes during the 70s and early 80s. ‘This Means War’ succeeds in actually making this premise work because it substitutes authenticity for unrestrained escapism and has an intentional light-heartedattitude.                   

I love cinema that explores, examines, investigates, and confronts. ‘This Means War’ is none of these things but it should be appreciated as a non-offensive entertaining experience. If you’ve seen the poster, watched the trailer and didn’t like what you’ve seen then by all means do avoid. There is no false advertising here. It really is spy against spy; Chris Pine and Tom Hardy fighting over Reece Witherspoon directed by a man called McG. It’s a film that knows exactly what it is, as will its audience, and it does it reasonably well. Personally I enjoyed it, and while I appreciate film critics who try to save the general public time and money I don’t appreciate unfair criticism or taking cheap shots at easy targets.