‘This Means War’ Movie Review

Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine in This Means War

Tom Hardy, Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine in 'This Means War' - Photo © 20th Century Fox

Finally, it’s happened. 2012’s nightmare of January dumpage and February no-thought rom-coms is over. Audiences can actually go to the movie theaters to see a movie that’s fun and worth the price of admission.

Ironically, it comes in the form of This Means War, which the studio itself isn’t sure if they should have a whole lot of faith in. Originally slated for a February 17th release, it was bumped up to Singles Awareness Day but The Vow and all of its Channing Tatumness scared the decision makers back to the 17th.

That’s a real shame, not only because they’re probably right that the average 18 year-old girl will drag their unlucky boyfriend to sit through Nicholas Sparks lite, but because This Means War is a far better date movie. Not only do you have the attractive and charming men competing for the affections of Reese Witherspoon, the guys are CIA operatives who perform all sorts of crazy action; so the girls AND the guys get something they want. What a concept! (Smell that sarcasm?)

Speaking of the actors, this was a perfectly cast effort. Reese has both the spunk and chops to hold her own against the fellas, but she’s also looking better than she has in years (not that she ever looked bad). She also makes the simple process of microwaving popcorn far sexier than it is at my place. Chris Pine brings the cocky charm and pretty boy looks (aren’t those eyes dreamy? Wait …) while Tom Hardy has the physicality and British accent to ensure that the pair are opposites, yet still complimentary.

The action is 97% over the top, with the guys doing the sorts of things that only happen in movies, but it’s all a lot of fun and exactly the kind of stuff that director McG knows how to do (robot movies not so much). The humor is also delivered on a high scale; the contest between the Pine and Hardy elicited more laughs than perhaps any comedy in the last year. It blends not only the posturing any romantic triangle normally elicits but the boys’ CIA assets are brought into play and they make stalking a hilarious affair. Even not being a big fan of Chelsea Handler didn’t dampen spirits as her boozy, poor-advice giving character helped keep Witherspoon from getting too serious.

Simply put, if your significant other has any intentions of submitting you to the weepy Tatum averageness, let them know there’s more than enough romance here and you get TWO hunky guys who can actually act; rather than one who knows his lines and where the camera is. This Means War is almost a movie out of its time, combining a funny script, excellent actors and fun action. We really haven’t seen this in a few years as most movies are content to throw the “it” celebrities into a raunchy situation and see what happens, without much regard as to the results since audiences seem to go to just about anything these days.

I know it’s well past New Year’s Eve but let’s make a resolution to only go to movies that aren’t made for the lowest common denominator. I’ll be your best friend! Pretty please? With sugar on top? Well … it was worth a try.


This Means War hits theaters on February 17, 2012 and is rated PG-13 for sexual content including references, some violence and action, and for language.

Ian Forbes

Ian Forbes

Member of the San Diego Film Critics Society, writing film reviews since 2005. Curmudgeon and lover of Susanne Bier films. Sadly, unlike Candyman, saying my name three times in a mirror does not result in my sudden appearance. However, you'll likely find me wherever a movie is severely melancholy.
Ian Forbes

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