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Spy Vs. Spy: Anything to Get the Girl in "This Means War" [REVIEW]

Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon at This Means War Premiere
Albert E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment

Who doesn’t love a good buddy flick? Maybe it’s because even when we’re down on our luck, our current romance has gone to hell, and our list of old flames looks like it came from America’s Most Wanted, most of us can usually take some comfort in the company of a good friend. Our pals know how to pick us up, cheer us on, and keep us from popping one too many Ambien.

My appreciation for the camaraderie I share with my own amigos is one of the reasons I really looked forward to the release of “This Means War,” the newest film to join the buddy flick category. FDR (Chris Pine, “Star Trek” and “Unstoppable“) and Tuck (Tom Hardy, “Warrior” and “Inception“) play two spies who also happen to be best friends. They’ve survived plenty of perilous moments throughout the course of their friendship and their careers, from dodging bullets to hanging off the edge of skyscrapers. But when they both fall for Lauren (Academy Award-winner Reese Witherspoon, “Water for Elephants” and “Walk the Line”), their friendship may not survive.

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The film starts out great, with the spies chasing down the bad guys via James Bond or Jason Bourne. FDR is suave, debonair and worldly-wise while Tuck is a sweet single dad with a license to kill. Both have awesome moves and their banter is lighthearted and fun. These guys take care of one another, on the job and off, and their relationship rings authentic throughout the film.

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Unfortunately, when Lauren comes on the scene, FDR and Tuck lose all semblance of self. Suddenly, they become predictable Lotharios determined to get the girl, if for no other obvious reason than to stroke their egos. But as Lauren dates both men, egged on by Trish (Chelsea Handler), the obnoxious best friend who wants to live vicariously through her pal, the relationship between girlfriends muddies the waters in this movie.

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For whatever reason, director McG (“Terminator Salvation”) can’t seem to decide if he wants this movie to be a buddy flick, a romantic comedy or a debate about women’s rights. Sure, there are films that successfully cross genres and even tackle serious topics with a comic twist. But that doesn’t happen here.

In the end, this was one critic who went to the cinema with great expectations, eager to enjoy a fun night at the movies. But sadly, I left feeling cheated because such a marvelous cast could have been put to better use if the story weren’t so predictable, the characters one-dimensional and the director so confused. I give “This Means War” three out of five stars.

This film is rated PG-13 for sexual content including references, some violence and action, and for language.

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