Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and with it the rush of romantic comedies it always seems to trail. This year you have the frontrunner that all the girls will want to see in The Vow, the one all the guys will want to see instead of the obligatory chick flick in The Grey, and now there’s even a happy medium: This Means War.
The premise of this movie is completely off the wall, so if you’re expecting realism you should take your expectations somewhere else (like out of American cinema). You’re introduced to the two handsome, suave, badass CIA agents Tuck and FDR who are inseparable in and out of work. Naturally something has to go awry. This time, by an unfortunate series of events, both of the best friends fall in love with the same girl and engage in a “gentleman’s game” to win her over.
However, this gentleman’s game is equivalent to croquet if each player is armed with guns.
This movie has your standard repertoire of Rom-Com clichés from the “jerk I can’t say no to for some reason” to the “insane female best friend who always gives advice.” I say cliché only because these roles are seen everywhere. However, the way they’re delivered this time around adds some freshness to the worn-out stereotypes.
The thing that makes this unique is that it straddles the line between Rom-Com and action movie in a way I haven’t seen before. Killers tried to do this and fell flat on the action. Knight and Day made the same attempt and turned out a much better action movie than romantic. This, somehow, manages to stay right in the middle throughout. There will be enough action to keep guys from dozing and enough love to keep girls from reverting to their smart phones, but here’s the real shocker: there’s enough humor that appeals to both that, even without the action or love, it would be a good comedy.
Despite some contradictions in the script that I still can’t figure out, this is a well-written, well-acted movie that delivers exactly what you should expect: all-around fun for both halves of the couple that go see it. If you want military precision and realistic consequences to gunshots on gas cans, look elsewhere (although I did count the shots fired before reloads, and they’re perfectly plausible). If you want the next Notebook, just go see The Vow. However, if you’re looking for something with more depth than a puddle that you won’t drown in, bring your sweetie to see this, even if Valentine’s Day is over.
– Nick Minarik