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February 18, 2012   •  Category: "This Means War"0 Comments

I don’t usually post movie reviews here anymore, partly because there are so many, and partly because I think it’s nicer for you to search out and read a variety of the ones you want, rather than me just posting the good ones here 😉 But I’ve just come across this This Means War review from the New York Times which I thought had an interesting comment on Reese’s career. Have a read below, and if you want more This Means War reviews, head on over to Google and Google News to do a search…

Buddy C.I.A. Officers Trade Guns for Roses

The cute couple in the strained, largely mirthless romantic comedy “This Means War” sometimes walk and talk alike. And because this is something of a spy flick — aspirationally, it aims for a genre hybrid along the lines of “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” with its locked-and-loaded love — the pair can execute a nice run-and-gun pas de deux. They’re awfully pretty these two, light on their feet and easy with the banter, but because they’re played by Tom Hardy and Chris Pine, and the age of mainstream-studio gay love has yet to dawn, Reese Witherspoon keeps getting in the way.

For whatever reason (box office, looks, lack of imagination about women), industry sages keep putting Ms. Witherspoon in romances, which is like putting a shark in a tank with a bobbing basket of kittens. She can be a fine actress and a brilliant comic, but she’s too calculating and self-contained a presence for most romances, particularly those comedies that try to squeeze laughs from female submission or humiliation. Ms. Witherspoon doesn’t register as the yielding type. (She’s good in battle, as in “Walk the Line” and especially “Election.”) One reason she works in the “Legally Blonde” films is that she’s playing a Barbie with a brain, and it helps that her most memorable co-star was a Chihuahua. She, not some Ken, carried the pooch and movies both.

Mr. Pine and Mr. Hardy are scarcely Kens, and they’re the main reasons to see “This Means War,” which would be perfectly acceptable watched on the back of an airline seat or at home while you’re doing housework. The movie, directed by McG (“Charlie’s Angels”), opens with a party scene that looks like one of those commercials with Ashton Kutcher peddling a camera — slinky models, suited men, shiny surfaces — but soon devolves into a shootout. As the teasing image of female pulchritude gives way to chaotic violence, about all that keeps your interest is the way Mr. Hardy’s character, Tuck, shoots near groin level, more old-west “Rifleman” gunslinger than modern action hero, and the brutal good looks of Til Schweiger as the villain, Heinrich.

Heinrich, an arms dealer spurred on by revenge and Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg’s weak script, is chasing after Tuck (Mr. Hardy) and FDR (Mr. Pine); really, though, he’s little more than a device, a way to show that the guys have actual jobs at the Central Intelligence Agency and aren’t just palling around. Even so, nobody does much work, perhaps because they clock in at the Los Angeles bureau, where the boss (Angela Bassett) periodically teeters into the frame in heels to bark out an order. In the second, more developed part of the story, the equally smitten Tuck and FDR chase after Lauren (Ms. Witherspoon), which means that she and Heinrich are effectively mirrored figures with similar narrative functions: each threatens to destroy the movie’s dynamic duo.

The clever hook in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” which Mr. Kinberg also wrote, is that its mister and missus are covert assassins (neither knows what the other does), whose marriage blahs vanish once they turn their gun sights on each other. The filmmakers try a variation on this kiss-kiss, bang-bang theme in “This Means War,” with Tuck and FDR remaining undercover while wooing the unsuspecting Lauren. One problem is that, compared with Angelina Jolie’s Mrs. Smith, Lauren is a weak sister, armed with just a mouthy friend (Chelsea Handler). It doesn’t help that the men’s rivalry soon escalates into spy versus spy shenanigans, and while it’s initially amusing to see them snoop on Lauren, by the time each has planted surveillance bugs in her house, you’re watching a cuddly stalker flick.

“This Means War” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Gun play, fisticuffs, car crashes and romantic stalking.

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