Film Review: This Means War

As an undemanding popcorn flick, This Means War does the job entertaining its audience. Viewers expecting anything more than this will likely be disappointed.

After bumping into an ex-boyfriend and his new fiancee, Lauren decides that she really needs to get back into the dating game. On the same night that she meets online date Tuck, Lauren bumps into FDR, who asks her out. Unbeknownst to her, Tuck and FDR are best friends and CIA agents who work together…

This Means War attempts to combine a romantic comedy with an action movie, presumably to appeal to both male and female viewers. The film is successful in its simple intention to entertain. Although some trimming would have made the film pacier, This Means War is never boring.

The film is amusing throughout. The comedy in This Means War is sometimes crass, although this does not detract too much from the amusement. A joke about being British is likely to fall flat or provoke a very negative reaction from audiences in the UK. Otherwise, the humour sustains the film throughout the duration. More serious moments do not work as well as the comedic ones.

The real downside of This Means War is that it relies on stereotypes to populate the film. This is most apparent in the gender archetypes used by screenwriters Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg. FDR is portrayed as the suave testosterone-fuelled male, while Tuck is the more sensitive guy, despite his build. Meanwhile, Lauren is the stereotypical female, wrought with indecision and needing to be rescued. Trish fills the role of the typical female best friend; raucous but caring. It is a shame that This Means War does not move beyond these obvious character types.

What piques the interest is the casting of the two male leads. Given the roles they need to fulfill, the actor Chris Pine seems more suited to Tuck than FDR. Likewise for Tom Hardy, who plays Tuck. It is interesting that the two were cast in the opposite role to what would be expected, however they both deliver suitable performances. Much rests on the likeability of Reese Witherspoon as the female caught between two men. Witherspoon does not disappoint in making her character amiable for the most part.

This Means War is typical of a McG film in that it is brash and glossy in style. Audiences familiar with the director’s work should know what to expect.