His first film in three years since the intrinsically disappointing Terminator Salvation, This Means War makes you wonder whatever made McG a big name in the first place.
When two top CIA operatives (Hardy and Pine) start to date the same girl (Witherspoon), they enlist the help of their tactical squads to wage an epic war on each other as they attempt to win Lauren’s affections.
So far so good, the plot actually sounds like it might be entertaining, but the execution falls at the first hurdle.
The success or failure of a rom-com, largely boils down to the relationships. You always know what you’re going to get with the resolution, and can probably predict the plot points along the way, so how the characters interact can make or break a movie. Here, it breaks it.
Overseen very sloppily by McG with continuity errors in the filmmaking and screenplay from the very beginning, the all-important chemistry between love rivals never takes off. Apparently best friends and with countless secret missions under their belt together, Pine’s FDR and Hardy’s Tuck appear as if they met the day before the movie picks up. There’s no bravado, no banter, no bromance, and while Hardy comes out on top in the acting stakes, his character doesn’t really fit the man’s persona. With Sam Worthington dropping out of the film fairly late one with Hardy taking up the slack, the script needed to be tweaked to realign with his demeanour and strengths, but quite apparently, it was left untouched.
And neither have chemistry with Witherspoon too. Well within her comfort, you never feel like the actress is really pushing herself, failing to make believable connections with either leading man. All three have proven acting ability but they never get a chance to show it as the narrative skates over them as people to focus more on their pizzazz, which fails too.
This Means War lacks conviction and the mere heart it needed to captivate an audience. A ridiculous plot is punctuated by out of place action scenes and a chronic lack of humour, while a side-story that’s supposed to be keeping the agents busy when they’re not vying for Lauren’s heart – they are meant to be fighting international crime, not each other, after all – has no impact at all. It’s fair to say you should avoid.