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This Means War (2012)

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 5/22/2012

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Review by Mike Long, Posted on 6/4/2012

Despite the fact that they've been in existence for over a century, movies are as popular as ever, especially for dating. Yes, a trip to the movies is still the go-to date for many couples and Hollywood is keenly aware of this. And, they also know that Valentine's Day is a perfect time to release a date movie. Movie executives aren't stupid and they know that couples like to see movies which appeal to both of them, so they try to find a balance between chick flick and whatever it is that guys like. Oddly enough, Adam Sandler understands this formula as both The Wedding Singer and 50 First Dates arrived for Valentine's Day. However, we also get movies like This Means War which tries way too hard to please everyone.

This Means War introduces us to CIA agents FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy), who are good at infiltrating enemy lairs, but bad at being quiet about it. As the film opens, they enter a Hong Kong night club in search of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) and nearly destroy the place. This earns them desk duty back in the Los Angeles office. This free-time gives Tuck the time to think that he would like to find a girlfriend. Meanwhile, consumer products tester Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) is lonely and bored. Her best friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler), decides to create an on-line dating profile for Lauren. Tuck sees this website and they make a date. The two meet and hit it off. As Lauren leaves the date, she stops at the video store (they still have those?), where she meets FDR, and they hit it off. Of course, neither man is honest about their jobs. It doesn't take long for FDR and Tuck to realize that they are both interested in the same woman and they make a pact to try and woo her and let Lauren decide. They both utilize elements of the CIA to spy on Lauren and each other. But, little do they know, Heinrich is heading to L.A. for revenge.

This Means War is one of those movies which probably looked really good on paper. Take a romantic-comedy and then add it some Spy vs. Spy and True Lies elements. This would create a nice blend of action and romance. Things probably looked even better when the movie was cast. We get Chris Pine, hot off of Star Trek and Tom Hardy, who was in Inception and will appear in The Dark Knight Rises, for the ladies to look at. These two guys get to act with Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon, who is a rom-com queen. Add to this, late-night funny lady Chelsea Handler, and you've got a dream team of sorts.

So, where did this movie go wrong:? Well, I would normally start by saying that McG directed the movie and that's all you need to know, but he did somewhat redeem himself with 2009's Terminator Salvation, so he's not completely to blame. No responsibility must be spread around to various factions. First of all, the movie tries a scattershot approach to reel in the audience. The film opens with a big action set-piece, which is intended to impressed action movie fans. Then, there are few action-like sequences in the middle of the film. The movie then ends with an action sequence, lest those viewers forget the opening. This completely feels like a bone thrown to the action fans in the audience and the sub-plot involving Heinrich feels like an afterthought throughout the movie. OK, so what about the romantic-comedy part of the movie. This section feels incredibly stale. Reese Witherspoon is often profiled as a smart and business-savvy woman, so why would she take a role featuring the incredibly stereotyped overworked woman who doesn't have time for a man? This is so hackneyed and we've seen it a dozen times before. Now who's this then, the cheeky friend who gets the main character involved in a wacky situation? How original!

The movie tries to milk originality from the way in which Tuck and FDR try to win Lauren. But, this ultimately takes on sort of a creepy quality, as they bug her apartment, monitor her phone conversations and follow her. They do all of this under the guise of their investigation into the Heinrich case. Is the idea of government employees lying and abusing their privileges in the name of love supposed to be funny? Also, in an age where we are made very aware of how dangerous stalking can be, this all feels very stalkery. We know that it's going to happen eventually, and we feel nothing when Lauren learns the truth and gets mad at the men for spying on her.

The worst thing about This Means War is that it all feels so dull and pedestrian. There are no surprises here and the plot seems to do little to keep us involved. There are no true laughs and the movie isn't especially moving (showing once again that McG has no idea how wring emotion from a movie). Pine and Hardy are good in their roles, but Witherspoon appears to be sleepwalking and Handler is simply annoying. Again, This Means War offers an interesting premise which may have worked better had it been an action film first and a romantic-comedy second.

This Means War...did I mention the whole video store thing...on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth of the image really stands out, as the actors are nicely separated from the background. The level of detail is also good, as we can clearly make out textures on objects. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.2 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The opening scene is quite impressive, as we are treated to very detailed surround sound (most notably from breaking glass) and stereo effects. The subwoofer booms from the gunfire and bodies hitting objects. After this, the track settles down somewhat, but it is still active and the in-film music sounds very good.

The This Means War Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from Director McG (on the extended version only). "Bachelorette Party" (4 minutes) is essentially a deleted scene which would have come at the end of the film, so it's odd that it gets its own slot. The Disc contains six DELETED SCENES which run about 16 minutes and can be viewed with optional commentary from McG. We also get three ALTERNATE ENDINGS (which meant that they had no idea how to end this) which run about 7 minutes and also optional commentary from McG. There is a 4-minute GAG REEL. The "Alternate Opening Concept" (9 minutes) shows a computer animated "Pre-Viz" which shows more of a Mission: Impossible type formula. The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER for the film.

Review Copyright 2012 by Mike Long