This Means War

[3.0 stars] This Means War (2012) on IMDb [Amazon]

This movie stars Chris Pine (who played Captain Kirk in the latest Star Trek movie) and Tom Hardy (who played the bad guy, Shinzon, in the Star Trek movie before that). But this movie is a romantic comedy set on Earth, and includes Reese Witherspoon as the love interest.

Pine and Hardy are CIA agents FDR and Tuck (respectively), best buddies, on the hunt for international bad guy, Heinrich. In an initial action scene, Heinrich's brother is a casualty; Heinrich escapes, but vows revenge against our heroes. (This doesn't matter much until the end.)

In the meantime, both FDR and Tuck become enamored with Lauren (Witherspoon). In pursuit, each uses deception, dirty tricks, and surveillance tactics in order to gain advantage in the competition for Lauren's affections. This strains their friendship to the breaking point. Lauren is torn about which guy to choose, she's unaware that they know each other, and (of course) she's eventually placed in peril by Heinrich's reappearance.

Bottom line: it's got numerous chuckles along the way, doesn't take itself very seriously. It's predictable, but entertaining. Not an awful way to spend a movie night.


Last Modified 2012-09-21 10:19 AM EDT

Savages

[Amazon Link] I'm kind of a Don Winslow fan, ever since reading California Fire and Life many years ago. And he's remained a good, reliable read. But this one… eh, not so much.

It's the story of a couple of California marijuana growers, Ben and Chon; they have mastered the secrets of producing dynamite weed, and have reaped a fortune doing so. They share a girlfriend, Ophelia, a fact that is described explicitly.

Unfortunately, a Mexican drug cartel has noticed their operation. After Ben and Chon decline its initial offer of partnership, it turns out to have been one of those offers they couldn't refuse. The cartel kidnaps Ophelia in order to gain leverage. The boys must attempt to keep the cartel happy, in order to keep Ophelia alive, until they can ransom her. And, perhaps unwisely, they attempt to raise the ransom by ripping off the cartel itself.

Winslow's style is offbeat, short sentences in short paragraphs, unusual use of whitespace, occasional passages are rendered in screenplay format. This didn't bother me as much as the ending in which <spoiler>nearly everybody dies, including Ben, Chon, and Ophelia</spoiler>. I didn't care for that much.

This book has been made into a movie, recently released. Trivia: one of the high points of the book was its description of Ophelia's airheaded mother, who she calls "Paqu", for "Passive Aggressive Queen of the Universe". Uma Thurman played Paqu, but—what were they thinking?—all her scenes were cut for time constraints. Sigh.


Last Modified 2012-09-21 10:28 AM EDT