“This Means War” is a date-night movie that’s really just an excuse to play around with gender crossover demographics. The romantic comedy of the story is hijacked by the buddy movie at its core.
Sparks fly thanks to the on-screen chemistry of the bromantic leads, undercover spies and best friends FDR (Chris Pine, “Star Trek”) and Tuck (Tom Hardy, “Inception”), who turn to high-tech surveillance to track each other’s moves after both fall in love with Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).
Pine struts as a generic cocky playboy (who lives in a bachelor pad with a swimming pool on the roof), while Hardy’s Tuck is a sensitive soul with an alluring British accent, a young son and a beautiful ex-wife. Both actors effectively mine the humor of their boys-will-be-boys competitiveness.
Director McG’s stereotypical shoot-’em-up action scenes, underscored by high-energy heavy-metal guitar riffs, offer fast-paced visual thrills but tell a muddled story.
Witherspoon delivers the same dark-rooted charm of her “Legally Blonde” franchise, yet her character is anchored by her own secret weapon, best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler), whose coarse humor provides surprising ballast for all the rom-com clichés.
Although the story and the acting in “This Means War” don’t make you care very much about who actually gets the girl, going along is a fun ride.
This Means War
No fresh weapons, but strong buddy chemistry drives the action to refuel tired romantic-comedy conventions.
Where • Theaters everywhere
When • Opens today
Rating • PG-13, for violent gunplay, crude sexual humor and implied sex
Running time • 98 minutes