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New movie 'This Means War' marries romance, action

By Shawn O'Neill

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Feb. 17 2012 12:00 a.m. MST

TMW-220 Man-about-town (and top covert agent) FDR faces his most difficult mission ever: figuring out his growing feelings for Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).

Photo: Kimberley French, Kimberley French

"THIS MEANS WAR" — ★★★ — Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy; PG-13 (sexual content, violence); in general release

Hollywood has given us some great romantic films, and it has delivered some great action movies.

But viewers have also been treated to mashups of these two genres. This "romaction" category does have some good movies to its credit, such as "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "The Princess Bride" and even "True Lies."

Joining the list is "This Means War." Two CIA operatives and best friends, Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine), are in Hong Kong on assignment. They must covertly stop Heinrich (Til Schweiger) from making a deal during a party on the top floor of a very tall, exclusive building. The operation does not go as covertly as they had planned, so they are put on desk duty.

Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon) is a consumer product tester who is looking for a man but can't seem to find a good one. Despite her wishes to the contrary, her friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) sets her up on a dating website. Even so, when she discovers that Tuck has sent her a message, she sets up a meeting with him.

She and Tuck meet and everything goes great. When she leaves, she goes to rent a video and meets FDR, who was nearby in case Tuck needed help. She and FDR don't hit it off right away, but eventually they do, and when the guys realize what's going on they reach an accord: They will let Lauren decide who she wants to date.

Each of the guys goes out with Lauren, but the other is always watching. It's great to have all those spy gadgets and underlings to help you track your girlfriend and her date. It seems that it's just fine to stalk someone as long as you're part of the government. The surveillance does get a little creepy. It seems as if Tuck and FDR have way too much time on their hands to keep up with Lauren and her personal habits.

Despite getting creepy, "This Means War" is fun. Some of the physical comedy is funny, but it does go over the top from time to time. The film has a playful mode as well, such as when Tuck takes his son out with Lauren. There is also a more adult playful side to this film that you may want to be aware of if younger viewers want to see the movie.

That playful side leads to some pretty intense sensuality and clothes being removed, with some partial nudity and a man shirtless in bed. Expect some violence; the heroes have a bad guy to deal with, and the government is after him. Gunplay and fist fighting happen among both the good guys and the bad guys. The film also contains rough language, including some innuendo.

This is a good, fun story, but the conflict does tend to get a bit cliched.

As for how "This Means War" compares to the other films of the "romaction" genre, it's definitely not the best, but it isn't all that bad either.

"This Means War" is rated PG-13 for sexual content and violence; running time: 97 minutes.

Shawn O'Neill is the Family Man Movie Reviewer on BYU Radio. His reviews can be heard on BYURadio.org and on SiriusXM Channel 143.

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