After what seems like one of the most intense advertising campaigns of recent memory, the latest from often-ridiculed director McG finally hits multiplexes.
There has been a sub-genre that, although not over-explored as of yet, has delivered some highly entertaining, if not critically acclaimed, films. True Lies and Mr & Mrs Smith both mixed the elements of spying, lying and romance to crowd-pleasing degrees that successfully appealed to both male and female audiences - a rare achievement and much sought after goal from eager Hollywood execs. Now that sub-genre looks set to add another title to its number with the glint-in-its-eye/tongue-in-its-cheek action rom-com that pits the new Captain Kirk of Star Trek against the new Bane of The Dark Knight Rises...
Straight from the opening sequence of a Hong Kong-based covert operation, all you need to know about the two male leads is presented in a slick James Bond-esque mission - both are comfortable with their job and each other but are the classic combination of chalk and cheese: one a devoted but separated father, the other a playboy; one is full-on sincere and the other is full-on up-for-it.
The script runs along at a blistering pace, swinging between each "spy guys'" attempts at seduction but it's not really the story that wins you over. Yes, you can see the outcome a mile away but with this kind of film it's not really about the destination - it's the journey there and the people you follow that make it worth your while. Pine and Hardy are able to back-and-forth banter along with best of them, but it is Wetherspoon that manages to pull off the harder of the three roles. She could have easily been the woman you "hate," coming across as some kind of two-timing tramp as she dates both super spies, yet she is able to make you believe that this is all new to her and she genuinely doesn't k ow what to do or how to decide between these two men that seem to offer her different combinations of all that she's ever wanted in life.
McG has, amongst many other things, has been accused of (like Michael Bay) paying more attention on the sequences rather than the story or it's characters. This latest outing here sits comfortably alongside the first Transformers where yes, there is spectacle - the opening rooftop fight; the finale car chase and those, the envitable smack down between the two friends - but there are characters that through laughter and charm, make you care about them and end up making you root for them... ALL of them!
As much fun as the trailer suggested it would be, This Means War is a rarity where couples or single sex groups can go watch it and still be entertained. They've managed to put up on the screen a little bit of something for everybody - the romance, the bro-mance, the action, the humour and of course, three not- too- displeasing-upon-the-eyes central actors. If you don't find the montage where both Pine and Hardy up-the-stakes against each other and sample the delights of paintball, modern art, muscle car racing, the high-wire and disastrous dates involving sprinklers and tranquilizering darts, then you have no funny bone at all!
Do yourself a favour and go see it!
UK release date: 02.03.12