‘This Means War’ (2012) review: Kiss kiss, click click

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‘This Means War’ a directionless rom-com

“This Means War,” a sadly generic, hopelessly strained romantic comedy marketed for the sole purpose of Valentine’s Day, pits its two male leads against each other in a Spy vs. Spy recreation without the humor or intelligence found in similar titles, such as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.”

What’s more, instead of letting the male leads — Chris Pine and Tom Hardy — simply battle it out or develop a relationship “I Love You, Man”-style (the reason for the infighting or friendship is trivial, regardless), we get a less-than-comical, but always sharply dressed Reese Witherspoon thrown into the mix to even the movie out. (Because what’s a spy movie if the spy aren’t fighting over a woman?)

Torn over which man to choice to begin her love life anew, Reese Witherspoon’s character, Lauren, decides to date both C.I.A. operatives, FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy). The issue here is that Witherspoon, while funny and a talented actress in her own right, is just not what you call the romantic type. (It has to be said it was nice to see Rachel McAdams not casted in this role, though.) Her eyes are too focused, her mannerisms too controlled to effectively be a lovelorn woman.

But it doesn’t matter what Witherspoon’s shortcomings are, the main attraction here is Pine and Hardy, who share a comfortable camaraderie despite being stuck in a listless rom-com only fit for lazy Sundays at the in-laws.

Directed by McG (“Charlie’s Angels”), the movie opens in a swank, posh party setting, which soon enough erupts into a chaotic gun fight. The reason: to capture the necessary villain, Heinrich (Til Schweiger).

Heinrich, an arms dealer bent on revenge on the spy duo, scours the globe for them. But, as with Witherspoon, he’s really not needed in what’s already a weak script. It gives the guys a sense of work, because it doesn’t seem anyone does much of anything in this movie.

What started out acceptable enough soon devolves into near-creepy stalking and a sad miss on recreating the magic in “Mr. and Mrs. Smith.” While Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were able to battle it out on an even par, Lauren is second-rate compared to the men fighting and spying and shooting for her attention.

So, the mix of all three leaves you wondering about too many cooks being in the kitchen. Except these aren’t cooks, and there’s only one kitchen involved. And no, there are no guns in this kitchen.

One spy-vs-spy star out of five.

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Tom Hardy (left), Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon are shown in a scene from "This Means War." (Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

Tom Hardy (left), Chris Pine and Reese Witherspoon are shown in a scene from “This Means War.” (Photo credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation)

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