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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Rashid Irani's review: This Means War

Rashid Irani, Hindustan Times   March 17, 2012
First Published: 23:30 IST(17/3/2012) | Last Updated: 17:18 IST(18/3/2012)

This Means War
Direction: McG
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine
Rating: *1/2

Here's an unappealing romantic comedy by McG, the shorthand-monickered director (full name: Joseph McGinty Nichol) whose credits include the two Charlie's Angels capers.

He has nothing new to offer to anyone familiar with recent additions to the over-burgeoning genre. Devoid of a smidgen of wit or hilarity, This Means War also fails to generate any romantic sparkle.

The kick-off love-triangle premise is intriguing, though. The script, reportedly in development since 1998, focuses on a couple of CIA agents who are also best friends. Ever-so-conveniently, they both happen to fall in love with the same woman.

She (Witherspoon) is a Los Angeles-based product-tester who has recently broken up with her boyfriend. Desk-bound after a botched mission in Hong Kong, the dashing duo (Pine-Tom Hardy) stumble into her life via an online dating service.

The men's friendship is at stake no sooner they decide to compete for the singleton's affection. Tapping into the intelligence agency's resources, the guys bug her apartment, monitor her movements and in their ongoing one-upmanship, even endanger her life.

Evidently, humour isn't the film's strong point but it doesn't offer much in the way of an alternative besides a flurry of underwhelming action scenes. The narrative loses further momentum with the introduction of a supervillain (Til Schweiger) intent on avenging his brother's death in the opening shootout.

Adding to the farrago are subplots involving the grandmother (Rosemary Harris) and the young son of the respective rival suitors. The plethora of self-congratulatory references to other, and better, movies is likely to elicit groans.

The dating game peters out in a bummer resolution. The bosom buddies had a gentleman's agreement: ‘may the best spy win'. So who gets to traipse into the sunset with lady love? Does it matter?

British actor Tom Hardy, whom you may remember from Warriors, is one of the least convincing romantic heroes in recent memory. Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine are only marginally better. Angela Bassett founders in the all-too-brief role of the CIA boss. The sole engaging presence here is Chelsea Handler, the cohort who dispenses smutty advice with shameless glee.

As abhorrent as they come, This Means War is quite avoidable.

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