Released in UK cinemas next Friday (2 March), McG’s espionage comedy This Means War (2012) has, rightly or wrongly, left some film fans slightly bemused. Not only is it a complete departure for British star Tom Hardy, who has cut his teeth with a number of excellent recent efforts including Tomas Alfredson’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) and MMA drama Warrior (and will appear as Bane in Christopher Nolan’s final Batman entry The Dark Knight Rises in July), but will also be directed by one of Hollywood’s best-known hacks, McG – responsible for the Charlie’s Angels cycle and Terminator Salvation (2009).
Despite some reservations, the concept is undeniably strong. Hardy and co-star Chris Pine play two amicable CIA agents who both end up falling for the same woman – namely Reese Witherspoon’s Lauren. The murky world of espionage has produced many a find comedy over the years, from 1967’s Casino Royale through to Austin Powers. Importantly, a common aspect of such successful spoofs has always been a sophisticated knowledge of the spy genre – something that McG has hitherto failed to illustrate.
The film’s official trailer has all the sight-gags, one-liners and explosions one would expect from a Hollywood action-comedy, and Hardy seems to have a wonderful knack for being the outstanding performer in each-and-every project he signs up to. However, whilst solid actors in their own right, there is little evidence to suggest that Pine and Witherspoon can shine in a straight comedy caper from the McG stable.
Pushed back from its original release date due to a slew of Valentine’s Day tie-ins, This Means War will undoubtedly look to target young couples on its release, hoping that its blend of espionage action and gentle rom-com will be enough to make an impression at the UK box office after a disappointing showing in the US (where it only managed to hit fifth spot).
This Means War is released in UK cinemas on 2 March. We’ll have a full review of the film next week.