This Means War

(2012) * Pg-13
97 min. 20th Century Fox. Director: McG. Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Til Schweiger.

/content/films/4336/1.jpgOh, McG. You have the enthusiasm of a puppy and the heedlessness of a child making himself sick by wolfing down every last bit of (eye-)candy from your bag of tricks—err, treats. Back on the Hollywood playground with spy-themed romantic comedy This Means War, McG plops his camera down in front of his favorite toys—movie stars and stunt crews—and once again proves he has absolutely nothing to say except "Movies are cool."

Perhaps this explains the scene in which Chris Pine's spy tries to pick up everyday gal Reese Witherspoon by plying her with his knowledge of The Lady Vanishes. But oh, snap! She's already seen it and isn't impressed with her would-be beau's knowledge of Hitchcock (she prefers his later work). Well, we're not impressed with McG's name-dropping of Hitchcock, either, so who can blame her. This Means War is big, loud, stupid and intensely color-corrected to pop its stars' baby blues. All it has, apart from its stars, is a two-note premise: 1) best friends FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) fall for the same woman (Witherspoon's Lauren) and 2) the best friends are also partners in spying, field agents for the CIA. Okay, there's a third note: German nasty Heinrich (Til Schweiger) simultaneously wants to kill the boys for killing Heinrich's brother.

Ironically, Witherspoon plays a product tester, which raises a question: is McG smart enough to mock his own studio-backed product? Are screenwriters Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg confessing? Whether or not they are, This Means War is unmistakeably an attempt at, at least, a "three-quadrant" film, meant to appeal to men, women, and boys (girls might be a harder sell). Men and boys come for the macho banter and gunplay and rolling vehicles and explosions, while women come for the men. (And the talking about men. With Chelsea Handler, that sassy broad her, playing Reese's married, liquor-swilling gal pal.) Pine and Hardy make charismatic leading men, but This Means War is a flat-footed romantic comedy and a weak-tea action movie, choppily edited in both regards, and wrestling its way to a rather obvious compromise of an ending (the most obvious of several that were filmed).

What makes This Means War most annoying, though, is its smug, cavalier attitude toward the "heroes"' violation of civil rights. Both men flagrantly break the law in their obsessive, head-over-heels competition for Lauren. At one point, Pine addresses a co-worker's concerns by simply saying, "Patriot Act"—hilarious! If the film were after some ballsy satire, or ballsy anything (for reference, check out The War of the Roses), that would be one thing, but This Means War doesn't want to close on Saturday night, so it tries to make us see FDR and Tuck as warm and cuddly family men who just undergo temporary insanity. Except their spy-prying—which extends to hidden-camera footage of lovemaking, among other misuse of government resource—and displays of lunkheaded brawn (like Tuck terrorizing the clientele of a paintball site to prove to Lauren he's "dangerous") aren't endearing; they're horrifying, in ways there's no coming back from.

Share/bookmark: Digg Facebook Fark Furl Google Bookmarks Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo! My Web Permalink Permalink

Aspect ratios: 2.40:1

Number of discs: 2

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1

Street date: 5/22/2012

Distributor: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Fox delivers This Means War in a Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Copy special edition that features a hi-def transfer with plenty of pop in the contrast and color departments. No digital artifacts blot the image, which exhibits natural grain and pleasing texture and detail. The vivid picture is complimented by a raucous, lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix guaranteed to rattle the shutters more than any rom com since Knight and Day, while still discretely prioritizing the dialogue.

Bonus features kick off with an audio commentary with director McG, in which the director says things like "I probably shouldn't have done that."At least he keeps up a steady rate of chatter about the movie even as he second guesses his choices; plus there's the refreshing honesty. It's both a little sad and a little funny.

A deleted sequence that gets its own menu entry, "Bachelorette Party" (4:18, HD) is a montage of gags from a Vegas bachelorette party.

Six "Deleted Scenes" (15:41, HD) come with optional commentary by McG, as do three "Alternate Endings" (6:55, HD).

Also here are an "Uncensored Gag Reel" (3:59, HD), an "Alternate Opening Concept" (8:53, HD)  presented in pre-viz CGI, and the "Theatrical Trailer" (1:39, HD)

Review gear:
Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer

Share this review:
Share/bookmark: Digg Facebook Fark Furl Google Bookmarks Newsvine Reddit StumbleUpon Yahoo! My Web Permalink Permalink
Sponsored Links