There’s nothing surprising about where Love Tactics is going, but charming leads with real chemistry help it along.
This review of Love Tactics is spoiler-free.
You know it’s February when every other Netflix release is a romantic comedy. Only yesterday we had Into the Wind, a torpid affair that confused being dreamy with making its audience sleepy, so at least Love Tactics has a low bar to clear. In fairness, it clears that bar comfortably on the strength of its more upbeat tone and energetic premise, even if it has some of the same problems — most notably a predictable screenplay that underserves two leads with genuine chemistry.
The broad premise runs thusly. Asli (Demet Özdemir) is a drop-dead gorgeous fashion designer and blogger who decides to prove a point of avenging her friend’s recent heartbreak by seducing a self-styled playboy, making him fall in love with her, breaking his heart, and blogging about the entire process. The patsy is Kerem (Sukru Ozyildiz), a drop-dead gorgeous advertising executive who just so happens to be playing a game of his own at the behest of his friends who believe that his womanizing antics make him incapable of understanding love. I’m sure you can see how this is going to go, and you’d be right, but sometimes it’s about the journey rather than the destination.
That journey, for what it’s worth, is split pretty evenly between the two leads, and Love Tactics makes an obvious point about the similarities of both of their endeavors. Virtually every sequence in the film that isn’t shared between Kerem and Asli ping-pongs back and forth between them as we see each having the same ideas based on the same cliches and mildly sexist attitudes. Sometimes this makes for so-so comedy, like an extended sequence in which both refuse to call the other believing that their phone is only moments away from ringing, and sometimes it makes for interesting predicaments since neither knows that the other is playing them but can’t quite buy into the idea that genuine coincidences keep bringing them together.
Of course, though, Asli and Kerem are inevitably brought together time and time again, and the more time they spend together, the more they fall for one another. This is believable, at least, given that these are two very good-looking actors with obvious sexual chemistry, but it isn’t all that engaging given how faithfully this film adheres to expectations of the genre. Asli realizes that Kerem’s womanizing is the root of a painful past and that he’s really a more sensitive and thoughtful soul than she realized, while Kerem realizes that there’s more to women than another notch on the bedpost. Both realize the extent of their feelings just in time for a late-game problem to emerge, and then the finale is about surmounting that problem just in time for a romantic reconciliation and a happy ending.
There’s a case to be made that this is what most people will want from a film like Love Tactics. But at the same time, you can hit the same general beats with a bit more novelty and verve than this film manages. It isn’t bad, but you’ve likely seen it before in one form or another, and the balanced, even-handed approach doesn’t add enough to make it feel original or interesting. As a surface-level on-theme guilty pleasure, though? Sure, why not.