This means nothing good
Todd Miller | Collegio Writer
Someone call the Federal Railroad Administration because I haven’t seen something stick to rails like this since arcade shooter games. I know romantic comedies have a formula, but at least most of them try to mix things up, even if they don’t do so successfully. However, “This Means War” was so bland and predictable that I had the whole movie figured out in 15 minutes.
The movie is about FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Turk Henson (Tom Hardy), two partners in the CIA. When their mission in Hong Kong goes south, the two are “grounded” and stuck at home for several days. While stuck at home, Henson meets Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon) through an online dating website and he takes her out on a date. Shortly thereafter, Foster runs into Scott and he too falls for her. The film centers on these friends competing to win the heart of Scott without her learning that the two men she’s dating know each other. This could have been done in almost any setting, but the writers made the men CIA agents so they could use their access to spying technology to follow the other’s courtship with Scott. The CIA angle also allowed the writers to create a side-plot involving Heinrich (Til Schweiger), an international criminal seeking revenge on the two agents.
The movie could have been fantastic, given the premise but it stuck with the rom-com genre so much that it fell apart into a shoddy mess.
For the most part, the characters were over-the-top and unrealistic. How Scott could’ve been distressed over dating two people, when she didn’t even like one of them at first, doesn’t come across as believable. I could buy her falling for Henson but Foster winning her over seemed forced and unbelievable.
This movie could be considered analogous to a handcar — it was stuck fast to a rail, often forced in one direction.
The “action plot” of the movie (if you could call it that), probably takes up 10 percent of the film, yet it encompasses the climax in a way that suggests the audience would care about it. I will say that Heinrich’s revenge plot keeps this movie from being another generic, romantic comedy. However, it isn’t enough to keep the film from being a failed attempt at a rom-com. The movie spent so little time on the Heinrich subplot that it barely impacted the movie. The climax felt as though it were thrown together at the last minute because they were stuck with the subplot.
The movie is supposed to be a “romantic comedy,” but it isn’t that romantic. So much time is focused on the competition between the two agents that it could pass as a comedic spy movie about courtship. Usually a romantic-comedy can survive a shoddy plot if it does a good job with the romantic element. But, “This Means War” is not one of those films.
I am easily amused, but I could count the number of times I laughed on one hand. The film tries to be funny, but it consistently falls short while missing several opportunities for laughs. The closest the film gets to comedy is through Scott’s friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Trish is raunchy and her over-the-top characteristics often made the movie a little more bearable.