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Review: This Means War


Released in the US last week, McG's This Means War has been met with a rather cold reception. This hybrid between the spy film, romantic-comedy and action flick is by no means perfect, but for a mindless Friday night watch, it proves to be great fun. We are told the story of two CIA Agents (Chris Pine & Tom Hardy), partners at work and also best friends, who are turned against each other after they both fall in love with the same woman, Lauren (Reece Witherspoon). As the poster so concisely puts it 'It's Spy Against Spy'.

As anyone should know when walking into an McG helmed film, your brain is not required. And on this basis, This Means War is great - a perfect film for simply going in to the cinema, relaxing and being entertained. It's a short 1 hour 36 minutes filled with a blend of action and comedy. McG's direction is capable with some strong action sequences, including an opening shoot-out at high class party to Tom Hardy paint-bombing terrified children. These action scenes can feel shoehorned in - in fact, there is a 'catching a terrorist' subplot quickly crammed in at various stages for added excitement (possibly to remind us 'the spy element is something different to your standard rom-com', albeit hardly prominent), this tends to come second to the romance and comedy aspects.

Timothy Dowling (Role Models) and Simon Kinberg's (Sherlock Holmes) screenplay has a sort of generic Hollywood feel with the plot feeling fairly predictable, some may say lazy. However, the more comic elements do not disappoint with the main cast being able to show off their comedic chops.

Reese Witherspoon is completely loveable from a first awkward encounter with an old boyfriend, eating alone in her sweatpants to her chatter with gal pal, Trish (Chelsea Handler). On a more critical note, the character has two of cinema's most attractive leading men lusting after her yet she's still not happy - I know countless people that would kill to be in that position!

Chris Pine is equally as enjoyable to watch as the smooth yet arrogant ladies man. Pine comes across as completely natural with the comic material in this slightly one-dimensional role. Less successful is Tom Hardy, who simply appears a bit awkward throughout - he's simply not an actor that works in a big glossy Hollywood rom-com. Hardy manages to convince as a spy and during the action sequences, as well as appearing to have a genuine camaraderie with Pine but the romantic scenes with Witherspoon simply do not convince.

The main draw for me and I think the reason I laughed so much was thanks to comic-Goddess, Chelsea Handler who stars as Trish, Lauren's best friend. This outrageous and highly entertaining character feels somewhat true to life as fans of her E! chatshow, Chelsea Lately, will be aware. It is hard not to laugh seeing her blast 1989 2 Live Crew track, 'Me So Horny', as she eats cheetos from her fat husbands mouth. It is these little random moments of comic gold that makes This Means War so enjoyable.

This Means War is your typical Friday night popcorn flick. The script can feel a little lazy and the action scenes feel shoehorned in but some clever gags and fun performances from Witherspoon, Pine and Handler justify giving it a watch.

RATING: 3/5

This Means War opens in UK cinemas on the 2nd of March.

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