by Lee Hazell
This Means War was directed by McG. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in. Yes McG, a man so desperate to become iconic he made his name look like an Irish carbonite compound, is still working in movies. He may have driven the Terminator franchise into the ground, reduced one of the biggest feminine icons of the 1970’s into a wet T-Shirt competition and introduced the world to “Chuck”, but someone somewhere was so impressed by this chain of imploding catastrophes they were still willing to give him a sum of money so large it could wipe out the debt of a dozen third world countries.
And so we have This Means War, a film that makes actual war seem less like a colossal waste of human life. Chris Pine (named for the tree that can best mimic his acting ability) and Tom Hardy (God help him, its going to be a while before they let him carry a film on his shoulders again) star as a pair of morally dubious spy’s who don’t actually know what the meaning of the word spy is. After turning a covert operation into national news, they somehow avoid the, y’know Court Marshall for compromising US security, and get off with a light slap on the wrist putting them both behind desks for a couple of weeks before they are allowed back out with the guns I can’t believe they’ve been proven mentally competent enough to handle.
To alleviate the boredom of their cripplingly average work they decide to play British bulldog with the reproductive organs of an incredibly successful and wealthy woman who can’t get a date despite having the kind of appeal that is only attainable by scientific experiment. She is Reese Witherspoon and is as sweet as bowlful of sugar. However the problem with this bowl is that it gets shoved down our throats, then refilled and shoved down our throats again. This happens every time she’s on screen.
It is the films second most infuriating problem. There isn’t a single character trait, relationship, situation, cliché, plot twist, attempt at humour or expositioned piece of back story that isn’t piled on us like the contents of a dump truck. It’s almost as if we are bombarded with information at every stage to keep us bamboozled so we can’t think about how awful the film is. And it’s a good job they keep us bamboozled, because it stops us from thinking about the No.1 problem the film has which is…
… the appalling misogyny that all three characters display. Congratulations you guys win an overwhelming sense of shame and a three week vacation to the coast of guilt, just off the sea of regret. This is a film that portrays two men lying, competing and spying over a woman and calls it sweet. A film that has a woman judge two men according to sexual prowess and calls it feminism. A film that has government agents violate the privacy of a civilian and calls it heroic. If I can’t understand how any of these concepts are supposed to be funny how the hell am I supposed to find them romantic?
Ultimately this film disgracefully panders to the basest of male instincts, indulging juvenile and primitive desires. But worst of all it expects its male and female audience to be dumb enough not to notice.