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This Means War(2012)
Two of the world's deadliest CIA operatives are inseparable partners and best friends - until they discover that they've fallen in love with the same woman. Deciding to keep their friendship a secret from her, they pull out their full arsenal of fighting skills and high-tech gadgetry to defeat their greatest enemy - each other.
For more about This Means War and the This Means War Blu-ray release, see This Means War Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on May 25, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.5 out of 5.
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Til Schweiger, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris
Director: Joseph McGinty Nichol (McG)
» See full cast & crew
This Means War Blu-ray Review
A style-less spy versus spy rom-com.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, May 25, 2012
Here's a casting cocktail no one ordered: Star Trek's Captain Kirk, Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, and Legally Blond's Elle Woods, shaken not stirred in what might prove to be the blandest rom-com of the year. This Means War stars Chris Pine and Tom Hardy as best friends—and CIA agents!—competing for the affections of the ever-perky Reese Witherspoon. The obvious attempt here was to create the perfect date movie, with swoon-worthy hunks for the ladies and some guns a'blazing action for the guys, but like 2010's The Bounty Hunter—which followed a similar recipe—This Means War is a mostly charmless exercise that will only appeal to less-discriminating rom-com fans.
Considering that the film's co-writers previously worked on Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Knight and Day—two better action-oriented rom- coms—you get the sense, whether it's true or not, that This Means War's spies-in-love shenanigans are made up of leftover script ideas, scraps that should've been thrown out. Doing little to punch up the second-rate material is director Joseph McGinty Nichol—otherwise known as McG—the poor man's Michael Bay and the guy responsible for Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Terminator Salvation.
A vaguely James Bond-ish, Mission Impossible-esque opening finds CIA super-agents FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) going undercover at a black- tie affair high inside a Hong Kong skyscraper. They only get a minute or two to schmooze with some hot models before German baddie Heinrich (Til Schweiger) busts in with his brother and shoots the place up in a weapons deal gone bad. FDR and Tuck save the day, but they inadvertently kill Heinrich's bro, earning themselves a new mortal enemy, bent on revenge. Back in Los Angeles, their boss at the agency—a shamefully underused Angela Bassett—reams them out for breaking cover, and grounds them from missions indefinitely.
The desk-jockey downtime gives us a chance to get to know these two masterclass spies and best buds. FDR—and I have no idea why he's named after the president—is an incurable ladies man who lives in a bachelor's pad with a glass ceiling that looks up into a swimming pool. Tuck, on the other hand, is the sensitive tough guy, a single dad still reeling from a recent divorce. You may have to suspend your disbelief that someone as handsome as Tom Hardy would have to resort to online dating to find love, but this won't be the last time This Means War will test the limits of plausibility. I'd wager that the thought that runs most frequently through people's minds as they watch the film is probably yeah, I dunno, I'm not buying it.
Product focus group facilitator Lauren Scott (Witherspoon) is getting over her own breakup, but with the urging of her married best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler)—who wants to live vicariously through Lauren's sexual exploits—she also joins the dating site and discovers Tuck's profile. They meet and happily hit it off. Immediately after, though, Lauren just so happens to have a flirty encounter with FDR inside a video rental joint. I'm not sure what's more unbelievable—that Lauren and FDR would meet out of sheer coincidence, or that anyone still goes to brick-and-mortar video stores. Both are hard to swallow. Of course, there's also the eye-rolling metaphorical significance of Lauren's job—she spends all day helping people come to a conclusion on which product they prefer more, but she herself can't decide which guy she likes better.
Naturally, she decides to covertly date both. FDR and Tuck quickly realize what's going on and, in the name of friendly competition, lay down some ground rules: 1.) No revealing that they know one another, 2.) no getting in one another's way, and 3.) no hanky-panky. May the best spy win. What follows is a goofy arms race of oneupmanship and sabotage, frequently accompanied—in possibly the most literal soundtrack choice ever—by the Beastie Boys' "Sabotage." Putting our taxpayer money to good use, FDR and Tuck each martial all the CIA resources available to them—bugs, thermal imaging, even air drones—in an effort to outmaneuver the other and become the man of Lauren's dreams. Is it creepy that they spend every waking hour stalking her in what amounts to a gross exploitation of the Patriot Act? Indeed it is.
Whether or not a film like this works usually comes down to a few considerations. Is the script smartly written? Is the action entertaining? Do the characters interact in unexpected, or at least interesting ways? Unfortunately, This Means War is uninspired on all counts. The jokes fizzle. The shootouts—minus an admittedly badass sequence at a paintball course—are strictly routine. And there's not a single surprise when it comes to the development or outcome of the three-way relationship. For a film about two guys accustomed to intrigue and danger, This Means War plays it frustratingly safe.
As for the leads, Reese Witherspoon is her usual self in yet another plucky rom-com role, and Chris Pine—who was in The Princess Diaries 2 and Just My Luck—likewise seems all too comfortable as the roguish lust object. They're the sort of actors you expect to be in a film like this. But Tom Hardy? He's Bane. He was in Inception. Bronson. RocknRolla. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. The upcoming Lawless. He's gonna be the next Mad Max, for crying out loud. A word of warning, then, Hardy: Look what happened to tough guy Mel Gibson after What Women Women Want, and stay away from the paycheck rom-com.
This Means War Blu-ray, Video Quality
This Means War arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer framed in the movie's intended aspect ratio. Shot on Super 35mm with what looks like a fast stock, the image has naturally filmic but often heavily grainy look. Consequently, the picture just isn't as sharp as one shot anamorphically or with a finer-grained film. Many shots seem noticeably soft—especially longer shots—but closeups usually reveal a decent amount of high definition detail, with visible facial and clothing textures. More importantly, 20th Century Fox hasn't tried to smear out the grain with DNR or artificially sharpen the image with edge enhancement. The only sign of digital tinkering is the color grading, which is bright and vivid, but sometimes features too-orange skin tones and artificially saturated eye hues. (McG admits as much in his commentary track.) Still, the picture has a satisfyingly punchy sense of contrast and is constantly watchable, with no major distractions. I didn't spot any blatant compression issues or encode errors. This Means War may not look quite as slick as some other action-oriented rom-coms, but its Blu-ray presentation is no slouch either.
This Means War Blu-ray, Audio Quality
More immediately impressive is the film's lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, which offers up far more action and engagement than your average rom-com. While the mix doesn't quite keep up with the intensity of dedication action movies, the spy versus spy premise allows for plenty of attention-grabbing sound design. From the first scene you'll hear a helicopter chopping through the rear channels, bullets punching through the soundfield in every direction, and shattering glass spraying forth from a car crash. The aural dramatics die down a bit for the more romantic scenes, but even here you'll notice an appreciable amount of ambience—chatter and thumping music at a night club, traffic sounds, outdoor noises, etc. Dynamically, the mix packs a modest wallop, with clean highs, clear mids, and a growling subwoofer undercurrent when necessary. The score isn't very memorable, but it at least sounds good too. Dialogue cuts through all this easily, and you'll never have to fiddle with your remote to understand what's being said. This disc comes with optional English SDH subtitles and a descriptive audio track, along with a frankly astounding assortment of dubs and subs in other languages.
This Means War Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
This Means War Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
This Means War was a modest box office success around Valentine's Day—when couples are looking for the ideal date movie—but I'm not so sure it'll fare as well on home video, as it doesn't really stand up to repeat viewings. The film is the epitome of the safe, unsurprising Hollywood rom-com, coasting along on star power instead of putting any real effort into a solid script. Still, if you enjoyed the film in the theaters, know that it features a strong Blu-ray presentation and a few fun extras. For diehard rom-com fans only.
This Means War: Other Editions
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This Means War Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Means War Blu-ray - March 28, 2012
In May, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will bring This Means War to Blu-ray. This action-comedy stars Chris Pine (Star Trek) and Tom Hardy (Inception) as two best friends - and deadly CIA operatives - who find their relationship tested when they realize ...
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