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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

This Means War | Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon, Chelsea Handler | Review

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This Means War

After turning in an explosive Oscar worthy performance in last year's Warrior, it is hard to fathom why rising star, British actor Tom Hardy, would choose to accept a leading role in this dreadful action comedy, an embarrassment for his resume. Same can be said for his co-stars, Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon and fellow rising star Chris Pine who made an impression in the reboot of Star Trek as well as Unstoppable, opposite Denzel Washington. I can only surmise the stars were hooked by the hefty paycheck.

That's too bad, because the talented, appealing cast deserve better than this. Other than being easy on the eyes, there is nothing the trio of actors can do to uplift this intolerable piece of drivel with sloppy direction by McG (2009's Terminator Salvation, 2000's and 2003's Charlie's Angels) working from a lackluster script by Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg.

After their mission in Hong Kong to capture German villain, Karl Heinrich (Inglourious Basterd’s Til Schweiger) fails, CIA partners and best friends FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are relegated to desk jobs back at their their home turf in L.A. That is when we learn Tuck is separated from his wife and has a seven year old son that he takes to martial arts class. FDR, on the other hand, is a free as a bird bachelor and flirtatious ladies man.

Their bromance is tested and put through the ringer when both men fall for the same woman and compete to win her over.

Lauren (Witherspoon) is a smart, pretty, professional woman working for a company that tests consumer products. She is also single with no prospects of a boyfriend. Jealous and depressed after bumping into her former beau and his new fiance on the street, Lauren's married and ever horny, best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler, given several very funny lines as comic relief) tells her she needs to start dating again and decides to register Lauren with an on line dating service where her photo and profile quickly capture the attention of Tuck.

The couple meet and hit it off right away. Shortly after, Lauren just happens to bump into FDR at a video rental store. How lucky can a girl be?

Torn between two hunks, under the advice of Trish, Lauren decides to date both men, unaware that they are best buds or what they do for a living. FDR (called Franklin by his Nana, played by Rosemary Harris) says he works as a cruise ship captain (a wink to his role as Captain Kirk in Star Trek) and Tuck says he is a travel agent. When the guys realize they are interested in the same girl, they agree to compete for her affection, saying “may the best man win” .

A series of ridiculous situations are then set into motion. As if this could ever happen, both guys are able to recruit several colleagues at CIA headquarters to pitch in on their effort and use whatever top secret intelligence resources they have at their disposal including the misuse of surveillance cameras and planting bugs in her apartment to eavesdrop on each other's romantic encounters with Lauren. It doesn't take too long before they engage in sarcastic banter, and resort to sabotaging each other's dates.

Unfortunately, everything falls flat. Even the action scenes are poorly orchestrated and not well thought out. When the boys get into an all out fight in a restaurant where they crash into tables, break glasses and destroy anything in their way, the place appears completely empty with no signs of the staff as well as the customers. With all the mayhem, you would think someone would call the cops, but not one police officer arrives on the scene. That is just one example of the ludicrous and implausible elements in this story in which the ending doesn't make sense.

The audiences also gets to witness juvenile behavior by supposedly intelligent grown men, and the woman, who is at the center of their attention, acting like a confused, silly teenager. Oh yes, Angela Bassett makes a couple of brief appearances as Tuck and FDR's boss, which amounts to another waste of talent.

Billed as a romantic action comedy, This Means War open in theatres the Friday after Valentine's Day.

Rather than a declaration of war between two lovestruck buddies turned adversaries, the film is a brainless fiasco. Like a prisoner of war, I couldn't wait for it to be over.

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