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Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine in This Means War.
Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine in This Means War.

This Means War: not to be taken seriously

McG's film ticks the expected action boxes easily enough - guns, explosions and other big stunts all appear to go off like clockwork.

Director: McG
Starring: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Chelsea Handler
***

In between bringing big-budget series to the small screen (Supernatural, Nikita, Chuck, The OC), the director-producer Joseph McGinty Nichol - or McG, as he likes to be known - prefers to go larger (and louder) in the multiplexes.

After famously rebooting the Charlie's Angels franchise (twice), then the Terminator brand (with 2009's Terminator Salvation), McG here tries his hand at a curious action-comedy-romance. We get two fast-rising stars - Warrior's Hardy and Star Trek's Pine - an always-reliable Witherspoon as the subject of their rival affections, and a no-nonsense voice of reason, in the shape of the comic chat-show doyenne, Handler.

The men are Foster (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy), two CIA operatives sparring after a chance meeting with the sweet Lauren (Witherspoon). Their friendship is soon in tatters, since neither is able (or willing) to withdraw from a race to win her over in record time. Only a dastardly group of Russians - on a suitably covert mission - can bring them back together.

McG's film ticks the expected action boxes easily enough - guns, explosions and other big stunts all appear to go off like clockwork - but, as usual, it's not designed to be taken remotely seriously. It's hard to buy a pair of agents agreeing to such a challenge, after all, let alone a pair of competing actors clearly vying for audience affection (never mind about Lauren).

Stranger still, constant digs aimed at Tuck (for being British) seem more than a little jingoistic. The actors claim to have enjoyed it. Handler is the highlight by a mile.

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