‘This Means War’ Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated November 27th, 2014 at 3:40 pm,

Chris Pine Tom Hardy This Means War This Means War Review

For the sum of its parts, This Means War is likely to work as a middle-of-the-road guilty pleasure experience that can satisfy a diverse range of filmgoers.

For many moviegoers, the combination of Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) in the role of CIA operative partners (or, to the outside world, travel agent and cruise ship captain, respectively) would, in another film, be a recipe for hard-hitting action full of witty tongue-in-cheek charm. However, in director McG’s latest film offering, action is only one part of the equation. The rest? Sex, romance, and plenty of “did she really say that” one-liners from Chelsea Handler.

As a result, does the spy versus spy action-romcom, This Means War present enough witty romance set-ups, exciting action sequences, and cathartic comedy moments to offer a moviegoing experience that anyone can enjoy?

Despite a solid cast of especially charismatic leads including Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Tom Hardy, there’s no doubt that McG has a pretty mixed pedigree – even when he’s working with top-tier talent (just look at Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle). That said, the director has successfully paired solid action offerings with campy comedy moments in the past (as in the original Charlie’s Angels movie) – so it’s not entirely a surprise that given the rich set up and a trio of charming headliners, McG actually delivers an entertaining, albeit flawed and predictable film that will appeal to a wider audience than the normal romance flick crowd.

Tom Hardy Reese Witherspoon This Means War This Means War Review

Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon on a relaxing date in ‘This Means War’

As mentioned, the success of the film is due in large part to the core storyline – which pits best friends (and CIA operative partners) FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) against one another for the affections of the same girl, Lauren (Witherspoon). On duty, the pair are lethal killing machines, but while off duty, FDR is a brash and reckless playboy who hunts for potential hook-ups by faking chance encounters with lonely girls in a video rental store – while Tuck, who hasn’t dated in years, takes to a Match.com-like website to find the love of his life. The set up is pretty basic, but as the rivalry between the men escalates and the pair begin to utilize their spy training (as well as CIA resources) to get a leg up on the other, there’s no shortage of entertaining moments. A side story featuring bad guy, Heinrich (Til Schweiger), who carries out a vendetta against the pair, is mostly an afterthought to all of the crazy dating hijinks, stuffed in for a bit more action, but the through-line ultimately works and doesn’t overstay its welcome.

That said, savvy moviegoers will easily be able to anticipate all of the converging story lines in the third act – and should have no problem predicting exactly how events will play out. In general, the various characters in This Means War are too familiar – and, much like a puzzle you’ve put together on more than one occasion, it’s nearly impossible to avoid the obvious way in which all these pieces will ultimately interconnect. The familiarity doesn’t take away from the film’s entertaining banter between characters, silly covert date sabotaging, or adequate action offerings – but will make it difficult to believe that when it comes to Lauren’s affections, Tuck and FDR are actually working on a level playing field.

One of the film’s greatest strengths is the dynamic between the two leading men (as well as how Witherspoon plays off of the potential suitors). Hardy and Pine, who’ve both shown a knack in prior films for balancing charm with tough-guy muscle, have great chemistry – resulting in an entertaining rivalry that also allows for some genuinely kick-butt action beats. That said, at its core, This Means War is a romantic comedy – which means that action-lovers who are expecting something  along the lines of the light-hearted but still explosive Mr. & Mrs. Smith might find McG’s spy film to be over-stuffed with goofy melodrama to the detriment of the spy storyline. This isn’t really a fault of the film itself, but based on the movie’s Bad Boys-like marketing campaign, there’s likely to be more than a few moviegoers who are underwhelmed by the ratio of action to romance.

Chris Pine Tom Hardy Spies This Means War This Means War Review

Tom Hardy and Chris Pine taking aim in ‘This Means War’

Whereas the Pine and Hardy storyline will make the film serviceable for audiences who are less impressed with movies like The Vow, the banter between Witherspoon and Chelsea Handler (who plays Lauren’s best friend) keep things from getting too serious – and, for the most part, the combination actually results in a film that captures workable aspects of all the genres at play. While it’s hard to say that This Means War utilizes the “best” action, comedy, and romance tropes, the resulting mash-up succeeds at finding a middle ground that, while not particularly innovative or intelligent, can be pretty entertaining at times.

This Means War is an extremely “familiar” experience, both in terms of how the plot plays-out as well as the scene-to-scene gags, but for anyone who can accept the film’s romantic-comedy core McG has successfully delivered an entertaining genre mash-up. It’s not the most realistic spy film, or the most outrageous comedy, or the most tear-enducing romance; however, for the sum of its parts, This Means War is likely to work as a middle-of-the-road guilty pleasure experience that can satisfy a diverse range of filmgoers.

If you’re still on the fence about This Means War, check out the trailer below:


[poll id="275"]


Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick - and let us know what you thought of the film below.

This Means War is rated PG-13 for some sexual content. Now playing in theaters.

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:


Post a Comment

GravatarWant to change your avatar?
Go to Gravatar.com and upload your own (we'll wait)!

 Rules: No profanity or personal attacks.
 Use a valid email address or risk being banned from commenting.

If your comment doesn't show up immediately, it may have been flagged for moderation. Please try refreshing the page first, then drop us a note and we'll retrieve it. Keep in mind that we do not allow external links in the comments.

  1. Id probobly give it a 3 lol I had fun watching it and didn’t regret seeing it at all. I think in large part it is due to such an appealing cast.

  2. Man, with GR sucking and now this, I guess I’ll have to finally see The Grey (I have a free ticket to see any non-3D movie); maybe I’ll just sneak in to see this. B-)

  3. Does Captain Kirk dropkick Bane?

    • That entire scene is in the trailer…hate to tell you..like shot for shot in the trailer.

  4. You forgot the most important part, a cameo of sorts:BEN ANDERSON OF APOLLO 18 IS IN THIS MOVIE! HE’S NOT DEAD!HE PLAYS ‘STEVE’ APOLLO 18 IS FAKE!!!!?!?!

  5. I thought the trailer looked awful. This movie has been under my radar so much that thanks to this fine website I’ve only just found out McG is directing it.

    To say I wasn’t sold before would be correct. To say I’m looking to avoid this movie completely now would be an understatement.

  6. might check this out on dvd.

  7. Might be worth it just to see Hardy kick the crap out of Pine… But that also means tolerating Handler. Sigh. Decisions, decisions.

  8. If you compare the aim of the two main characters in the picture, it looks like Chris is thinking: “I’ll blow your brains out!”

    Which raises the question. What is Tom Hardy thinking!?

  9. I saw this at the sneak preview on Valentine’s Day and really enjoyed it. Great action sequences and there was some really funny dialogue. Of course it was somewhat predictable, but while watching it I really didn’t mind. Good movie to drag the husband/boyfriend to – he won’t complain too much!

  10. I still plan to see it. Looks very entertaining and I’m a big fan of both Pine and Hardy. I don’t hate MCG but not a fan either. The biggest draw backs for me are Witherspoon who annoys the crap out of me and Handler who isn’t as funny as she things.

  11. I cried a little when I realised Hardy is willing to do these types of movies.

  12. Totally predictable, but, surprisingly, I enjoyed the HELL out of it! It kinda gave me the feeling I get when I pop in a good movie I’ve seen a hundred times for the 101st. Chris Pine and Tom Hardy were absolutely excellent.

  13. I saw This Means War yesterday. I choked on my soda because it was too funny! Critics are too hard on the movie! People need to lighten up, quit reading critic reviews, and take a chance. Best romantic comedy I’ve seen so far!

  14. I thoroughly enjoyed all the scenes with Tom Hardy and Chris Pine and any scenes that they were in individually. They played brilliantly off of each other, and (in my opinion) you could do a whole series of movies with these two agents. However, Reese Witherspoon’s character was weak and her obscene friend completely unnecessary. It’s a really bipolar movie, which was made half of awesome and half of absolute crap.

  15. Loved it! The critics are wayy 2 hard on this movie! It isn’t a masterpiece, a deep, emotional, moving experience. But its hilarious, romantic, and really lighthearted. You can never go wrong with TWO hot guys in suits. I loved Chris Pine!!

  16. Loved it! You can never go wrong with a movie with Chris Pine!

  17. It blows believe me! Totally miscast (and I love Tom Hardy) and painful to watch! Buyer beware