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7.25 out of 10
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8.75 out of 10
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10.0 out of 10
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6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

This Means War

Spy Against Spy

Rated: PG-13  Some sexual content and action.
Release Date: February 17, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 37 mins

Director:  McG
Writers: Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg, Marcus Gautesen
Cast:  Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, John Paul Ruttan, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris, Abigail Spencer

SYNOPSIS:  After two top CIA operatives discover that they dating the same woman, they make a pact to let the best man win but look to outdo and undermine each other's romantic efforts at every turn.

REVIEW: Charlie Angels and Terminator: Salvation director McG comes back to the big screen for a action-packed romantic comedy, mixing covert CIA expertise and technology with a quirky love triangle.   Based on a screenplay by Timothy Dowling (Just Go With It, Role Models) and Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes, the upcoming Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) from a story by Dowling and Marcus Gautesen (Carboy), This Means War combines the kinetic style of McG's music video roots and television and big screen action efforts with Dowling's romantic comedy and Kinberg's action comedy chops.

FDR Foster (Chris Pine, Unstoppable) and Tuck (Tom Hardy, Warrior) are a top-notch CIA team, versed in extractions, surveillance, and all matter of wetwork. As close as brothers, FDR and Tuck are inseparable as teammates and friends. When they are relegated to desk duty after a botched operation in Hong Kong against Heinrich (Til Schweiger, New Year's Eve) and his brother, Tuck decides to take a run at online dating. He meets Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon, Water for Elephants) for lunch and finds an instant connection with her. Unfortunately, the same day, FDR runs into Lauren by accident and decides to pursue her as well. When FDR and Tuck discover that they are dating the same woman, they make a gentleman's agreement to not get in each other's way and let Lauren choice for herself who she wants to date. Of course, when jealousy gets the better of them, they both use their CIA resources to sabotage each other's efforts. In the meanwhile, Heinrich uses his own resources to smuggle into the country and take revenge on FDR and Tuck for what happened in Hong Kong.

McG does what he does best. Using the style he perfected with his directing efforts on Charlie's Angels and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, McG mixes and balances comedy and action perfectly with This Means War. Reese Witherspoon and Chelsea Handler provide the quick wit with their dialogue and interplay, Handler's married boring Trish verbally pushes Witherspoon's workaholic Lauren outside her comfort zone to pursue both FDR and Tuck in order to live vicariously through Lauren's escapades with the two men. On the other side of the relationship battle field, Pine's FDR and Hardy's Tuck use their capable physical prowess, innate intelligence, and government training to fill in the film's fast and fine action sequences with fun. Bring the two sides together and you get something as tasty as peanut butter and chocolate (as long as you are not allergic!). In fact, the best combination of action and comedy comes at the barrel's end of a paintball gun as Tuck tries win the flag against an army of pint-sized soldiers. 

The comedy is good and the action is good. The only way the film could have been better would have been upping the evil presence of Heinrich. As he plans to eliminate the duo who ruined his Pacific Rim plans Heinrich systematically makes his way closer to FDR and Tuck, but remains too much in the shadows to be much of a threat until almost too late in the film. Til Schweiger does shed the anxious father figure of New Year's Eve with a rough exterior and a steely glare.

Notable actresses make their way onto set for This Means War. Angela Bassett (Jumping the Broom) cameos as CIA superior Collins. Rosemary Harris replaces her Aunt May role from Sam Raimi's Spider-man film trilogy to appear as FDR's matriarch Nana Foster, serving as the example for Tuck and FDR for how to live a fulfilled existence with a life partner. Tuck certainly takes her example to heart, longing for a new meaningful relationship with Lauren after a sad divorce from ex-wife Katie (Abigail Spencer, Cowboys & Aliens).

This Means War is a fun, romantic, light thrill-ride. Part romantic comedy, part action comedy, This Means War is all fun. McG infuses plenty of action gunplay to counter the romantic foreplay, making this film a worthwhile covert operation of heart extraction.

WORTH: Matinee or DVD

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