Wednesday, 14 March 2012



Confession: maybe I'm entirely alone in this, but I rather enjoyed Terminator Salvation. Big, loud, full of giant robots smashing everything up, it was dumb entertainment in precisely the way that the imbecilic Transformers movies weren't, despite having a far superior legacy to live up to. Even though I have no love whatsoever for the Charlie's Angels movies, which were just annoyingly stupid, I wasn't prepared to write the idiotically-styled McG off as a worthless sub-Michael Bay hack because of that Terminator film. But I am now. McG's latest is an abysmal piece of hackwork: an unromantic, non-comedic and thrill-free romantic comedy thriller which couldn't have been any more of a pathetic failure if it had had Danny Dyer in it. If it had had Pol Pot in it.

Briefly, This Means War concerns two swaggering bellends fighting for the affections of a gurgling simpleton. Tom Hardy and Chris Pine are best friends, top secret agents and dick-waving Neanderthals who both end up dating Reese Witherspoon, a halfwit who works with consumer focus groups. Rather than one or other of them bow out - it's not as if they're ugly and overweight nerds who couldn't pull someone if they put their so-called minds to it - they each unleash the formidable might of their respective CIA squads to bug her house, tap her phones and maintain surveillance on her at all times, without her noticing even when they're hiding in her kitchen while she's in there. While Witherspoon uses her product comparison skills to try and decide which of these despicable little boys she likes better, Angela Bassett struts around reminding them about Heinrich (Til Schweiger), the renegade German terrorist seeking revenge for the first-act death of his brother in a rooftop shootout, and he duly turns up and abducts Witherspoon for a brief car chase.

It's like an extended variation on the tiresome middle bit of True Lies where Schwarzenegger uses the apparently limitless resources of the American Defence Department to sort out issues in his personal life, but expanded to nearly all the running time and bookended with a couple of frankly indifferent action sequences to start and finish. Nor do you care which of these immature puddles of primordial ooze finally gets off with someone too dim to ever wonder why and how everything she says is magically brought to life a few days later. Frankly none of these people should be allowed to mate.

McG is back at a status of sub-Bay worthless hack; that Terminator movie was clearly just a lucky fluke. This is a thoroughly horrible and depressing film: it's dull and stupid and so full of obnoxious idiots you end up on Heinrich's side. There are no laughs, there's no wit, no charm, no grace or subtlety. Maybe audiences just don't want those attributes these days: they just want to stare at the pretty people while things going boom. And Michael Bay and McG (real name Joseph McGinty Nichol) will oblige with empty spectacle and noisy idiocy, get unjustifiably wealthy off the back of it while having the audacity to call themselves "film-makers", and will do it again. And again. What a wonderful world.


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