This Means War
Time Out says
Dir: McG (2012, 98 min). Cast: Tom Hardy, Chris Pine, Reese Witherspoon. Opens: Feb 23
Some kind of internal threshold for obnoxiousness is broken when you submit to this harsh rom-com—you feel it give way and wonder whose idea it was to release the thing around Valentine’s Day. Charmless and histrionic, this mean-spirited movie takes place in the toyscape of McG (Charlie’s Angels), a monomonikered director who makes Michael Bay seem thoughtful. Our heroes are FDR (that’s actually what he goes by, played by Star Trek’s Pine) and Tuck (Hardy), two extra-close CIA agents who love their job. After foiling a John Woo–tired rooftop heist, they stride with equal swagger into a competition to win over a woman they’ve both dated.
But wait: Isn’t that woman Reese Witherspoon, very often not obnoxious? As Lauren, a workaholic, Witherspoon fades into the part of an insecure product tester, afraid of rejection. You never believe it, nor do you think she’d ever submit to a shrill pep talk from bestie Chelsea Handler (i.e., the point at which your head explodes). Then come the paintball mishaps and surveillance-cam stalking—or is it wooing? Every plot point is telegraphed, yet given the usual conventions of these triangulations, it’s still possible to wince at the awful ending, a focus-group-tested option that actually has Lauren picking the lamer of two jerks. Joshua Rothkopf