A Review Of This Means War – The One Where Bane Rises


This film is going to get panned by a lot of people.

Presumably people who aren’t sure what the film wants to be. Rom-Com. Shoot Em Up. Time waster?

Me? I enjoyed it. Not in a True Lies sort of way. More of a Mr & Mrs Smith way. But you know what? Sometimes that’s enough.

Lets be clear from the off, it’s a really poor action film. The opening scene is an abomination in how to shoot an action scene. Mashed editing, poor sound. I couldn’t believe it, if I’m honest. It all looked so unprofessional, I’m staggered the film ever recovered.But it did. To a point. That point tends to be the 12A rating, and what it’s doing to modern action movies.

For a film selling itself as big on action, (it’s not) the film needs to work as a Rom-Com. And it does. (Sort of). Judged just on that basis, I think Mrs T would love it. But then how do you explain away the gun fights, and 12A neck breaking?

Apart from some fun sparring by Hardy and Pine, this film is safe. It should be a recipe for BO success, but I fear it won’t. When word gets out that the conclusion to the film is a limp car chase, the boys will stay Home. And do the girls like either Hardy or Pine enough to stick it out? Has Witherspoon still got that draw? I’m not sure.

Like any other (OK, most) Rom-Coms, it’s morally corrupt. It involves cheating, and kids being abandoned, but it’s… well… fun. It’s all over the place tonally, but if the opening does anything, its to let us know the film is a joke within itself. Constant referencing to other, better, movies seems to be part of that. When McG is hauled up in front of the Judge, you’d imagine his case for defence, (charged with crimes against movies), would be: It’s only a movie. Stop taking yourself so seriously. He has a point.

The concept has been done before, in both of the films I mentioned before, and it’s been done better. But I fear a backlash for this film. As I said, I think some are going to absolutely murder it.

And that doesn’t seem fair, either.

The action scenes pick up a little, but the film definitely suffers as a result of them. It’s not so much of a tonal problem, (Hardy’s accent means the film doesn’t really care about that, and its tongue in cheek from the get go), but that it’s so poorly conceived. The action is sporadic, and very 12A. And that may be more of my issue. It’s a 12A. The action is limp and safe. So why bother?

The end, which barely deserves a large action set piece, is a weaker version of the Mr & Mrs Smith car chase. It looks lime it was shot for real, but looks far less involving than the one in the Safe House trailer… so… well, why bother?

Reese Witherspoon plays this as cute as possible – and for the first time since Counting Crows dragged me through Cruel Intentions, I could see the fuss about her. I could see why two mates would want to sabotage (TUNE!), the others attempts to woo her. So, in saying that, I guess it’s the leads that pull the film through.

Witherspoon does nothing out of the ordinary – and, as I say, I have a huge issue with morals in this sort of film. At least she has some moral conflict, I suppose, but the conceit is flimsy. Hardly what we want teenagers of today thinking is OK. Where did true love go, I asked myself? Why don’t people sing “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” in bars anymore?

Whatever. It’s not important to McG, so shouldn’t be important here.

Pine? Well, he’s a star. We knew that when we saw Smokin’ Aces, let alone Star Trek. And out of all of them, I’m interested in where his career goes. He can be an action star, sure. But you suspect he’s capable of more. Is he the new Brad Pitt? I think he might be, you know. He just needs to steer clear of shit like this.

Here he sparks with Hardy. Loads of banter – as mentioned, much of it circling around cultural differences, and Hardy’s accent/teeth.

It was the first time in a while where there has been banter within a team of characters, and I thought: That’s what I’d do in real life with my mates. I laughed, (Sorry, ROTFLBO), at least three times. Mostly I sat smirking.

Hardy? Well, it’s his year, isn’t it? He is far too good for this film. There are times where he is interrogating a suspect, and I remembered when I first fell in love with him – way back in Bronson, and The Take. He’s unhinged. Something is lost in his eyes. His career is already better than Pines, so I hope the US audience give him a go. I think, come the Summer, they’ll have no choice.

He’s magnetic here. And, contrary to other reviews that suggest he can’t do the lovey dove thing… Well, I think Mrs T (she’s target demographic in many ways) would disagree.

Looking at his listings on IMDB, come the Summer, he’ll have been in three (Inception, Tinker, Rises) of the biggest films of the last two years. And crucially, he gets both bits right. Script. Plus the acting. He’s a definite star, and I know people are going to want more of him. I kept looking for Bane references. There is a scene where he mows down a table of card players, by diving to the floor and knee capping them all. It’s very 12A. Maybe one wound. Awfully shot. But he’s a bad ass. You can see when he returns to the CIA HQ, and he’s covered in 12A blood, that he’s a shark. A killer, behind dead eyes. Psychotic. And it adds an edge to an otherwise safe film. There must be a 15 cut for the Blu Ray. The swearing never hits the promised level, and as mentioned, the bullet wounds can’t be seen in amongst the incompetent action. So it exists. I’m sure of it.

For now, we’ll always have Warrior.

Also, while I’m bashing McG, (Hey guys, you were right, it IS fun). What is up with the fades to black? Is it a digital thing? My cinema? At least 3/4 times, the film awkwardly fades to black. It can’t be in the editing, surely? Not in a film of this size?

Actually, it could be. And that’s the sort of thing that stops it being this years Mr & Mrs Smith. Quality wise at least.

One more thing on the action front, rewatch Terminator Salvation. I’ve always been fond of it, but it shows you just how much above his weight McG was boxing.

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  1. This Means War….between me and other critics | Live for Films - [...] = [];}Just a short piece on this movie, as Adam and his lovely wife give the full low-down here.…