Saturday, June 2, 2012

"This Means War" Review (With a Little "Chronicle" Thrown In)

    Sometimes, it's all about the execution. This is This Means War! Also, just a quick note before I start this review. This is June which for me, a high school student means I'm about to become swamped with all kinds of last minute projects and reviews for my finals, as well as a two-week long Drivers Ed class, so I apologize in advance if updates for this month become slow.

    When it comes to movies, if the movie is bad it's hard to look past what we as audiences didn't like to see if the movie really was flawed from the very beginning, or if at some point a good movie got lost underneath a very poorly thought-out screenplay mixed with bad direction. That is the ultimate problem with This Means War. It wasn't so much the idea that two spies, FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) fighting over the same girl (Reese Witherspoon) was bad from the start, but the why the filmmakers decided to go about producing this movie was the exact wrong way to make this movie. And that's all that matters sometimes.
    Take for instance another film from earlier this year, Chronicle. To quickly review the movie (Which I saw on the same night as This Means War), Chronicle works about a million times better that This Means War. The characters are all likable, the story is good and the whole thing is very well-made and creative. If I did have any complaints though it would be that the story could have been a bit more interesting. However, with the small budget and overall generic story Chronicle had to deal with, treating the movie with a regular style of superhero story would have not only looked cheap, but probably have been far less effective than the clever use of the "found-footage" style the film ultimately goes with. By using that style, the film suddenly looks a whole lot cooler and become fairly unique on it's own. If I had to give it a score I'd say Chronicle gets 4 and a half stars out of 6. 
    Now if This Means War took the route of Chronicle things might have been a whole lot better. No, I don't mean they should have filmed the movie is shaky cam. I mean, instead of making it the generic "romantic comedy action movie" that the film is, they should have found a style that made better use of it's profoundly absurd premise. Imagine, instead of the straight-laced movie we get, This Means War as an Austin Powers-type spy parody, making fun of spies womanizing ways and romantic comedies recent trend of making the "strong female lead" in reality a new stereotype. In the right hands that actually could have worked. Unfortunately, that's not what we get.

This movie's way more fun if you imagine that Chris Pine
only exists in Tom Hardy's head.
    No, what we get is really, really awful. The fact that the movies fails on pretty much every conceivable level is all at once not surprising and a disappointment. Pretty much everyone who saw the trailers knew this was looked awful, but with such a good cast, it was hard mot to hope that this somehow turned out to be good. But, as good as the cast is and as much as they try, they just can't get over the film's terrible premise.
    This Means War is one of those movie's that has such unlikable characters doing horrible things with no consequences to their actions that the whole thing is more aggravating that entertaining. Witherspoon, though she has some issues with dating two guys at once, is still dating to guys at once. The fact that she dates both of them is surprisingly anti-stereotypical of rom-com leads, but it still doesn't make the fact that she's leading both of them on any less morally wrong.
    She's a saint, however, compared to Pine and Hardy. The douchey duo lead Witherspoon on as well, by not telling her that they not only know each other and knowing that she's dating both of them. Instead of clearing this mess up, the illegally use government resources (In full knowledge of their superiors, mind you) to basically spy on every aspect of Witherspoon's life so that they can mess up the other chances and know where exactly they stand in the messed-up game they are playing with each other.
    The comedy side of things stinks too. Chelsea Handler, who plays a friend of Witherspoon's, is the "raunchy" character of the movie. However, somebody desperately needs to tell the writers that there is a big difference between raunchy and crude. Handler painfully unfunny, because the filmmakers didn't get that saying the word "Penis" a lot isn't equivalent to making actual jokes. The action part of it all dies a slow and lame death too, with most action scenes being lame been-there-done-that car chases and fistfights. And without good action, any chance of some escape from the bad plot is crushed.

This is quite possibly the only time we see FDR
and Tuck act like friends to each other.
    One of This Means War's taglines is "Make War, Not Love" and if that doesn't perfectly sum up the main reason this movies sucks, I don't know what else would. The film lacks any kind of likability or romance, instead putting it's talented cast is extremely unlikable roles and having them do awful things. The story is overall just plain stupid, with the "humor" being either annoying or offensive, and the action is just lame. This Means War thinks it's really cute, but instead, it's just really awful. This Means War gets 1 star out of 6.


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