This Means War (2012)

Don’t be fooled by the title – This Means War is not an action movie. With its A-list love triangle and dreamy meet-cutes, it’s romcom to its back teeth, even if it does contain the odd expensive-looking explosion.

The premise is simple. Undercover agents Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are ‘grounded’ after a disastrous mission gets the attention of the national media. Desk-bound and bored, they take it upon themselves to fight (quite literally) over bubblegum bombshell Reese Witherspoon, whose job is to unwittingly choose a victor. Meanwhile, a terrorist B-plot – which is barely even worth mentioning for all the weight it carries – plays second fiddle to the romantic shenanigans, and merely functions to provide intermittent pyrotechnics.

The real fireworks, though, are to be found between Hardy and Pine, who share a sizzling chemistry that borders on the homoerotic. No surprise that This Means War was co-scripted by Simon Kinberg, who also penned Robert Downey Jr.’s first Sherlock Holmes outing. The same bubbly bromantic banter is evident in War, and is the film’s main strong point.

What is surprising is how flat the action scenes are. Director McG previously helmed both Charlie’s Angels films and Terminator Salvation, which means he knows a thing or two about action flicks. Still, the handful of combat sequences are War’s limpest – in particular the opening high-rise segment, which feels like a deleted scene from a really bad Bond film.

Happily, McG keeps the fisticuffs to a minimum, allowing the spotlight to shine firmly on Pine and Hardy. With these two firing off razor-sharp one-liners, This Means War takes a sitcom premise – what if Bond and Bourne were dating the same girl? – that can barely muster more than one note, and turns it into a buffet of blokey one-upmanship. 2/5