Film: "This Means War"; Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy; Director: McG; Rating: ***
Ever since the popular cartoon "Spy Vs.Spy" appeared in Mad magazine, where two spies try to outsmart each other, this was an idea waiting to be explored. "This Means War" puts in the booty - the love of a lovely lady - as it pitches two equally matched spies against each other.
FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are not only the best operatives in CIA, they are also best friends who wouldn't think twice before taking a bullet for the other. Problem erupts when both fall in love with the same woman (Reese Witherspoon). The two unleash their minds and CIA might on each other as all becomes fair in winning the love of an undecided woman.
Almost everything that could have been done within the boundary the film sets for itself, is done. This leads to a very predictable film as it progresses almost exactly as one would expect. But that is hardly the point since if you keep your expectations to the level of a typical Hollywood action-comedy; you'll be more than satisfied. Use your brains, and you'll be disappointed.
There are some genuinely funny moments in the film as the two men pit strengths against each other. However, they are hidden behind too many cliches and the well-conceived action sequences does well to take away some of the tediousness.
The actors pull off the best from what they have been given. Not being an actor's film, there wasn't much that could have been expected from them either.
However, where the film could indeed have scored, is in pushing for a more realistic morality in men-women relationship. After Ernst Lubitch's 1933 hit comedy "Design For Living", which for the first and perhaps only time promulgated the idea of a lead woman, who loves and sleeps with two men she loves, Hollywood has been in a state of denial.
Thus you have your male protagonists being everything from cheaters to suave lovers of two women at the same time, but you have never really had your lead actress anything less than a model of virtue. Morality, even during the 1930s and even now, wasn't so black and white for Hollywood to stay so cut off from the reality of it all. In "This Means War", there was a little opportunity to be a little closer to reality, but it settles for far too less.
But then the film wasn't trying to be a tale of morality or be serious about anything and hence, neither should we. It's a simple tale, which for two hours gives one the comfort of familiarity without too many extraneous jerks. And that, for a film like this, and of low expecting viewers like us, is enough.
By Satyen K. Bordoloi