• that a woman as beautiful as Reese Witherspoon can’t meet a guy;
• conversely, that a man as handsome as Tom Hardy can’t meet a girl;
• that Reese’s character would come to date Tom and Chris Pine — CIA partners — at once;
• that video stores remain hotbeds of activity;
• that Chelsea Handler is hysterical;
• that people eat Cheetos from each others’ mouths during sex;
• that the ideal first date is full-blown circus trapeze;
• that … well, I’m sure there are more, but my wife and I found the film so wretched, so inane, that we gave up shortly at the halfway mark. I rarely call it quits like that. I’m glad I didn’t opt for the Blu-ray’s extended cut.
Yes, This Means War asks this of its audience, yet offers no reward in return. This means we already have a strong contender for 2012’s worst film.
In the uneasy combo of romantic comedy, spy thriller and action-adventure romp, what stands out is how creepy its concept is — essentially, two stalkers dueling with their man-swords — and how, of all the possible projects that an Oscar-winning A-lister like Witherspoon could have done, this trash won her favor. With Water for Elephants and How Do You Know, this means back-to-back-to-back bombs for the lovely and talented actress.
Hardy (Warrior) is also far above than this material, but such mindless, big-budget fluff is right in line for someone as unproven in range as Pine (Unstoppable). Blame director McG (Terminator Salvation), who wraps the shallow story in millions of dollars of artifice, and bathes the cast in lighting so odd, everyone looks dipped in orange — but a needlessly expensive shade of orange, I’m sure. —Rod Lott