This Means War Blu-ray Review
Before finally landing on the laps of stars Reese Witherspoon, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and director McG, THIS MEANS WAR (or variations of that title) went through just about every actor/actress/director combination in Hollywood. The film languished in development obscurity for over a decade and when a film goes through numerous iterations and cast changes, it usually means there’s a problem. THIS MEANS WAR is no exception and in fact, it’s a perfect example of the rule. Although glossy and fun on the surface, THIS MEANS WAR is far from being a good film.
Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) are professionally trained and highly skilled CIA agents and they also happen to be best friends. Director McG and the team of screenwriters went out of their way to make sure we understand that Tuck and FDR are best buds, even taking the time in the beginning to throw in a dialogue exchange between the two where they proclaim they would die for each other and they’ll be best buds forever. Which makes it more confusing when the two guys end up falling for the same girl, Lauren (Reese Witherspoon). The idea of someone coming between two best friends is more something you would expect from a couple of high school kids, not something you’d expect from two CIA agents who have spent the last ten years trusting their life in each others hands.
What makes this more frustrating is that Tuck had a date with Lauren, they hit it off and he was instantly stricken with her. But FDR had to go out of his way to get a date with her and in the beginning, she didn’t even like him. In other words, FDR could have walked away at any time, but they set it up to where he basically kept pursuing Lauren because he felt challenged by Tuck. This set a bad tone for the entire film as the audience starts rooting for Tuck, mainly because FDR is a jerk. To fix this, the filmmakers could have done a few things; first, they shouldn’t have had them be best friends, but rather two rival CIA agents that are going after the same girl. Second, both guys should have been on level ground so the audience isn’t pushed to rooting for one or the other and then getting angered by the ending. Finally, they should have completely axed the subplot of a rogue terrorist hunting the guys down. It served no purpose and took us away from the central plot.
With all of that said, the film had me laughing out loud in a couple of different spots, most notably when they guys were trying to sabotage the other’s dates. Some of the comedy worked really well, thanks to some clever date ideas and a very small part from BRIDESMAIDS veteran Rebel Wilson (who was uncredited). I enjoyed the idea of them spying on Lauren as she’s talking with her friend and then trying to do the exact opposite of what she said she didn’t like. The film had brief flashes of brilliance, which made the overall disappointment of the film that much harder to digest.
Thanks to a few great comedic moments, THIS MEANS WAR is saved from being a horrible film. McG can put on a good, flashy show, but he seems to be completely lost when it comes to character development or to telling stories people can relate to. We’ve all been a part of a love triangle to some degree or another and that common thread is something that could have been used to bring the audience in. But as it was, FDR and Tuck were basically egotistical superheroes (with an unending supply of money) and Lauren was an empty character that no one could relate to. Even with the star power, THIS MEANS WAR was a disappointment.
Video: Something was wrong with the video transfer. McG lives and dies by how shiny and pretty his films are and I didn’t feel the transfer did the film justice, at least not when compared to other Blu-rays we’ve seen. It probably has a lot to do with McG’s decision to shoot this on 35mm film stock rather than digital, but I still think the transfer could have been better.
Audio: The audio wasn’t reference quality either, but it was fine.
Commentary with McG: It’s easy to slam the guy’s work, but this commentary might make you change your mind before you go hating on him. He sits down and talks about every aspect of the film, including what didn’t work and what he didn’t like about it. I loved this commentary, only for his willingness to address the film’s problems. Granted, I thought there were more problems in the film than he did, but he still gave a good commentary.
Bachelorette Party (4:16): This is a deleted scene of sorts, featuring Lauren in vegas on her bachelorette party.
Deleted Scenes (15:42): McG gives an optional commentary on six different scenes, none of which are very notable.
Alternate endings (6:51): I can’t think of a time when I’ve seen three alternate endings for a film, probably another sign that something was wrong with the film long before it hit theaters.
Gag Reel (3:56): Another gag reel with more laughing uncontrollably and flubbed lines.
Alternate Opening Concept (8:52): A CGI visual of an opening that would have happened in Dubai. I assume it was scrubbed since McG is scared of flying.