"This Means War" wants to have the best of both worlds.

On one level it wants to be a standard romantic comedy with swooning males and the courage female torn between them. It also aspires to be a high octane action film with plenty of stunts and sequences that rival anything out of a James Bond movie.

In both cases, the film fails miserably.

This is a loud, obnoxious endeavor completely devoid of anything remotely coherent. About the biggest surprise in this plodding and predictable fare is the fact it manages to completely waste the talent of all three of its leads. The only way this could be any worse is if Katherine Heigl was one of the stars.

Chris Pine and Tom Hardy play FDR and Tuck, CIA operatives and best buddies who get involved in a competitive battle after they discover they are both interested in the same girl - a feisty career driven woman named Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).

In the right hands this could have been light, breezy, and fun. In the hands of director McG (the man behind the "Charlie's Angels" movies) it manages to be everything but those three traits.

This is a poorly edited, over-the-top, and ultimately miserable excursion - with McG combining every everything from the action film checklist with every rom-com cliche. The result is a film that feels about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face.

All three leads have proven to be solid in previous work, but "This Means War" gives them nothing to work with. All three characters are shallow, kind of creepy, and kind of deserve each other considering their high levels of narcissism.

Then there is an absolutely horrible supporting performance by Chelsea Handler as Lauren's best friend. She delivers her lines in the same monotone (well if you can say screaming is monotone) and proves to be less interesting than her dead on arrival television sitcom.

I'm sure there are those who might feel I'm being a little too hard on a movie that is just trying to be mindless entertainment. It's one thing to take a leap of faith and suspend your disbelief. "This Means War" asks you to jump off a cliff.

Grade: F


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