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This Means War


Jeff Nelson

I wouldn't recommend rushing to the theaters for this one, but it's worth a one-time viewing as a rental.

This Means War
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This past Tuesday was Valentine's Day. This is the one day of the year where not only do couples get together, but a few cheesy romantic flicks are released. There's always at least one. This Means War was supposed to be released alongside The Vow for a special Valentine's Day release. However, it was pushed back to be in wide release on February 17th. I was invited to a review screening, courtesy of 20th Century Fox, and essentially knew the verdict upon walking out. I'm never going to expect a masterpiece from a romantic comedy. These generally aren't very good, although there are exceptions. There have been some reviews that have broken the embargo, most of which are negative. After looking through them, I believe that quite a few of them are a bit harsh. They left me wondering why they judged this film as if they were watching a possible Academy Award nominee. I walked into this one expecting nothing more than a fun motion picture.

Two CIA operatives are inseparable partners and best friends. They soon discover that they've fallen in love with the same woman. Deciding to keep the friendship a secret from her, they pull out the variety of fighting skills and high-tech gadgetry in order to be the better man. The story itself doesn't escape from the typical rom-com. The plot is very straight forward. This Means War is predictable from start to finish, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the journey. I was able to guess who got the girl before even seeing the film. The script incorporates comedy, romance, and action. Audiences won't find themselves laughing too much, but there are a few funny lines delivered. Aside from that, a majority of the dialogue is poor. It's pretty cheesy and isn't going to leave many viewers happy if they're looking for clever writing. One major complaint I have is that the movie makes it too obvious who will get the girl by clearly favoring one over the other quite a bit. While I was able to guess which guy it is, I still didn't like the ending. This Means War reaches its peak during the middle of the running time. It loses a lot of steaming during its finale. It attempts to bring in a large action element when there isn't very much of it until then, with the exception of the very first few minutes. Perhaps it could have been more effective as an action flick first and a romantic comedy second. At any rate, the screenplay is weak, although I didn't expect much more from it.

Audiences are sure to be drawn to This Means War by the group of actors. Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, and Chelsea Handler are all big names. All of the performances are fine. None of them are spectacular, but that is generally very difficult when the script isn't too fantastic to begin with. Reese Witherspoon is entertaining as the woman the two men are fighting over. Tom Hardy is a phenomenal actor, but doesn't receive the attention he deserves in this role. Chris Pine is fine, but similar to the other actors, he has delivered much stronger performances. Chelsea Handler is hilarious out of the movies, so I'm sure her audiences will be interested in checking out This Means War. She is simply a supporting role, so she doesn't receive as much screen time as Witherspoon, Hardy, or Pine. However, she delivers the funniest lines the film has to offer.

As I previously mentioned, there isn't a lot of action to speak of. There's a little bit in the beginning of the film, and the final act composes of the last bit. Everything in between is a pure romantic comedy. The last action sequence delivers much better than the beginning. It offers flipping and exploding cars, shooting guns, and plenty of unbelievable stunts as other action flicks offer. Otherwise, there isn't very much to discuss regarding the visuals.

I have some mixed feelings about This Means War. It surely isn't the perfect movie, although it isn't as horrible as some critics want you to believe. If you're expecting a well-crafted award-winner, then you're sure to hate it. However, if you simply are looking for a fun Valentine's Day flick that can work for both genders, then this is worth checking out. The script has its issues, the cast does its job as they should, and the visuals deliver. I don't think it would be fair to expect too much more than that. This Means War is average. I wouldn't recommend rushing to the theaters for this one, but it's worth a one-time viewing as a rental.

My Rating = Three Stars

Next movie: The Human Centipede
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