This Means War
- Street Date:
- May 22nd, 2012
- Reviewed by:
- Aaron Peck
- Review Date: 1
- May 24th, 2012
- Movie Release Year:
- 20th Century Fox
- 97 Minutes
- MPAA Rating:
- Release Country
- United States
The Movie Itself: Our Reviewer's Take
I don't think suspension of disbelief goes this far. It's just too hard to imagine two good-looking, eligible bachelors would fight, almost to the death, over Reese Witherspoon. I mean, it could have been worse though. They could've cast Sarah Jessica Parker in the role, right? But, with Witherspoon you never get the sense that she could make anyone fall in love with her within the first few seconds of meeting her. Especially, when most of the time she's acting like she's almost as clueless as she was in 'Legally Blonde.'
Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) are buddies who work at the CIA. Apparently CIA operatives earn a lot more money than I ever thought possible, because FDR, the womanizer of the pair, lives in a swanky L.A. apartment which is adorned with a swimming pool ceiling. My only reasoning for him living in this place is because director McG wanted some cool shots (by the way it's the exact same set that was used in 'The Killing' as the billionaire's house, I'm sure of that).
Speaking of the lack of realism, here's the kicker. Tuck, a divorced man with a child, is looking for companionship. So, he does what any normal man in 2012 would do. He signs up for an internet dating service. No, this movie wasn't set in 2002, it's set in the present day. This story holds up about a decade ago, not now. He soon meets Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) on the dating service because her friend (Chelsea Handler) signed her up for it. Yes, Chelsea Handler is in this movie. Yes, she's just as grating and awful as she always is. Why she keeps getting so much work is completely beyond me. The worst part is that she thinks that everything she says is funny, which breaks the most important rule of comedy. As a matter of fact everyone in this movie thinks they're funny. They do everything but outright laugh at themselves. Almost winking at the camera saying, "See what we did there? Funny, huh?"
Oh yes, back to the lack of realism. So, the same day that Tuck meets Lauren for their first date FDR also meets her when she goes to a local video store to rent a movie (I take what I said back about this movie's plot being okay for a decade-old movie; we're now looking at something that could've only taken place during the late 90s). That's right, a video store. What's that you may ask? Well, I'm pretty sure there's a Wiki page out there somewhere that will explain how, once upon a time, people rented videos from a physical store.
They both fall for Lauren for reasons that are still unexplainable. The rest of the movie is devoted to the two rascally CIA agents devoting millions of dollars of CIA time and high-tech equipment to spy on Lauren and then use the information to woo her. In case you were wondering, yes, it's as stupid as it sounds. They sneak around her house like mentally unstable stalkers pilfering information that they can use to beat each other. It's pretty repulsive at times.
McG's visuals amount to a multi-colored headache on the screen. He's all over the place with his editing, which is nothing new. Action scenes are merely cut-and-paste body parts that are edited in a split-second fashion resulting in a complete loss of any sort of geographical basis or knowledge. He constantly plays with the movie's contrast and color palette like a child trying out new finger paints. Ick.
'This Means War' seems like a very weird choice for two actors as popular as Tom Hardy and Chris Pine are right now. Maybe they thought the movie would be better. Who knows. All I know is that it's a painfully out-of-date action comedy that fails on almost every level.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This is a 20th Century Fox release. It comes in a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack and also includes a Digital Copy. There are two discs included, the DVD, and the 50GB Blu-ray Disc. The code for the Digital Copy is located inside the package on a separate insert. The back of the case indicates a Region A Release. There are both theatrical and extended editions on this set. I only watched the theatrical version (don't think for one second I'm watching this movie again). According to IMDb the movie had some sex jokes cut out for a PG-13 rating, so I'm guessing in the extended version those are inserted back in.
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
As I said above McG's visuals are exhaustingly terrible. That's not to say that there's anything wrong with the 1080p transfer of the film, which I'm sure looks almost exactly how it looked in the theater, but I am saying it's an annoying film to watch.
Skin tones are the worst offenders here. Most of the time it looks like every actor in the movie has been out tanning for the last six hours before they went on set. This is most likely do to the Michael Bay-esque pumped up saturation McG uses to make the movie look sexier(?). Sometimes the contrast is pumped up so much that the whites burn far too hot for their own good. If a shaft of outdoor light hits someone's face during this time their whole face and all the details are erased by a giant white swath of light.
Detail is great though, which is what you'd expect from a movie that just got out of theaters. Close-ups feature a wide amount of heavily saturated detail. The faux-tanned faces feature clearly definable pores, while Tom Hardy sports some nifty, clean, action hero stubble. Textures like the cloth of the guys' tailored suits, or Reese Witherspoon's many girly dresses look great. Clarity is top-notch along with shadow delineation. I didn't notice any annoyingly glaring missteps on the part of the encode except for maybe some shimmering here and there. No biggie though. If you can get past McG's obvious attempts at making the movie look much sexier than it is with his over saturation then you'll find a fairly nice high-def transfer awaiting.
The Audio: Rating the Sound
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is no different. At no point does the surround sound mix really make you think it's something special or out of the ordinary. Instead it produces its explosions clearly, and delivers its dialogue succinctly. It's an audio track that is technically proficient, but utterly forgettable. Much like many action movie soundtracks out there.
With that said, the movie does feature some nice rear channel engagement. When Tuck and FDR fight each other in a restaurant, tables bust, glasses break, and people scream. The commotion can be heard assaulting you from every direction and makes you feel that they'll land on your table next.
There are a few seamless pans in this film, like big black SUVs speeding from one side of the frame to the other. The audio moves perfectly through the soundfield producing a clean line of sound. Like I said, there's a lot of action and it will engulf you at times, but there isn't anything overly special about this mix.
The Supplements: Digging Into the Good Stuff
- Audio Commentary – There's a commentary by McG provided for the extended version. After listening to all his commentaries on the special features it's kind of hard to get through a full-length commentary. I wasn't really going to sit through this movie again, but I did listen to quite a bit of the commentary. McG does like to talk about what he likes every chance he gets. It gets a little annoying, but he's a bit more forth-coming and blunt about his own movie than many other directors would be. He talks about what he dislikes and what he likes. The downside is much of the commentary simply focuses on his tastes, but that becomes an upside when he talks candidly about what he thought worked and what he thought didn't.
- Bachelorette Party (HD, 4 min.) – An entire deleted scene that takes place after the movie ends where Lauren goes to a bachelorette party and her friends talk about her to the camera. More Chelsea Handler. That's all you need to know in order to steer clear of this.
- Alternate Endings (HD, 7 min.) – There are three alternate endings. Each with optional commentary from McG. "Warehouse," "Alternate Version 1," and "Alternate Version 2," are the three endings offered. The "Warehouse" scene involves a pretty cliché showdown at a warehouse between the guys and the evil guy in the movie which doesn't really go anywhere and according to McG's commentary it feels like it's from a different movie. The other versions are slight variations on the ending (SPOILER ALERT) where in "Version 1" Lauren ends up with Tuck because Tuck is holding her after the crash, and "Version 2" where FDR is cradling Tuck leaving Lauren completely alone. McG laments, "If I had any guts that's the ending I would've released theatrically."
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 16 min.) – There are six deleted scenes in all, again all sporting an optional McG commentary. Many of them are quite extended scenes. There is one marginally funny one where Tuck arranges for all of FDR's old girlfriends to meet up at the same time when FDR is on a date with Lauren with the promise that FDR will apologize to them. There is another scene, that should've been left in, that expands the knowledge we have of Tuck's relationship with his ex-wife.
- Gag Reel (HD, 4 min.) – A lot of laughing and line flubs. It's an uncensored track so there are a few F-bombs peppered in.
- Alternate Opening (HD, 9 min.) – This is a pre-viz of what McG wanted for an opening but couldn't pull it off. It goes through an elaborate one-shot pre-viz of the world's tallest building, in Dubai, as the camera sweeps around in and through the building showing different characters doing different things. It was fairly ambitious and could've worked better than the actual opening in the movie. There's a commentary provided by McG.
- Trailer (HD, 2 min.) – The theatrical trailer is provided.
HD Bonus Content: Any Exclusive Goodies in There?
There are no Blu-ray exclusives provided.
I really couldn't stand this movie. It amounts to a brainless lump of tepid action and bland comedy. There are some funny parts, but they're few and far between. It's amazing what a dismal movie will do to three likable and popular actors, suddenly you don't like them as much as you once did. The video and audio do a good job and are technically proficient, but ultimately they turn out pretty generic after having watched the movie. There's a good helping of special features if you're into more McG commentary. The only way I'd recommend this movie is if you had absolutely nothing left on your Netflix queue and you couldn't possibly think of another movie to watch. It's the definition of "a rental at best."
- Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy
- Extended & Theatrical
- 1080p/AVC MPEG-4
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- French Dolby Digital 5.1
- Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
- Czech Dolby Digital 5.1
- Hungarian Dolby Digital 5.1
- Polish Dolby Digital 5.1
- Thai Dolby Digital 5.1
- Turkish Dolby Digital 5.1
- English SDH, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Croatian, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Korean, Malay, Mandarin (Traditional), Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese
- Commentary by McG on extended version
- Alternate endings with optional McG commentary
- Deleted scenes with optional McG commentary
- Alternative opening concept: Previz with optional McG commentary
- Bachelorette Party featurette
- Uncensored gag reel
- Theatrical trailer
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