Movie Review - This Means War

Tom Hardy in "This Means War"
Oscar-winner Reese Witherspoon dates two men who both happen to be friends and who both happen to be CIA agents. The fact that they're CIA agents is incidental and really has no bearing on anything. It adds nothing to the plot. It merely gives director McG excuses to have shoot outs, chase scenes and crazy hand-to-hand combats. The filmmakers are clearly trying to fuse the romantic comedy genre that Witherspoon is best known with the buddy cop action films that McG is best known. The whole thing ends up being rather ridiculous, charming at times but mostly stupid fun. Its problem is that it's too short. It moves too quickly when it needed more time to build where it was going and further develop its characters.

Chris Pine co-stars as FDR, the super slick playboy-type who is more about casual relationships with women. Tom Hardy also co-stars as Tuck, a British father who is trying to spend more time with his 7-year-old, American son, Joe. Both FDR and Tuck are highly trained spies that know ballistics and martial arts, and in Tuck's case he knows acrobatics.

Interesting note, both Pine and Hardy were main characters in the two previous Star Trek films. Pine played the hero in JJ Abrams' reboot in 2009 and Hardy played the villain in the 2002 sequel. Spoiler alert, in Pine's Star Trek movie, he won. In Hardy's Star Trek movie, he lost. Similar results for the two actors may or may not happen here.

Their two characters are at odds with each other for Witherspoon's affection. Witherspoon plays Lauren Scott, a former gymnast from Atlanta who's now a businesswoman running a consumer product testing company, and like all beautiful, smart, funny and successful women in Los Angeles, she has trouble dating. Her friend, Trish, played by Chelsea Handler, sets up a profile on an Internet dating site for Lauren, which leads her to dating these two guys, FDR and Tuck.

Screenwriters Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg play with this premise in obvious, predictable and not very clever ways. FDR and Tuck are CIA agents, so I hoped this might turn into a kind of Mad magazine's "Spy vs. Spy" sketch where the tug-of-war or one-upmanship was over this woman, but FDR and Tuck are on the same side and are in fact friends, so the rivalry feels tame and the screenwriters keep it tame. They never really threaten anything or create any real stakes. Supposedly, their friendship is threatened, but that's only lip service.

Their lives as CIA agents don't have stakes. Their jobs in the agency don't even feel real or as if it has any weight. There is this mission that the two have to find a bad guy known as Heinrich. Heinrich's brother fell off a tall building. FDR and Tuck were responsible, and now Heinrich vows revenge, which is the plot, by the way, for Die Hard With a Vengeance. Yet, this mission never is a concern. It's more of an after thought or just an excuse to have its characters pull out guns to appeal to a male audience. Angela Bassett who plays their boss, Collins, is barely in it, as she's an after thought as well.

The idea is that Lauren dates two guys and then has to choose which one with whom she wants to be in a relationship exclusively. The comedy comes from the fact that they use the resources of the CIA to compete and to help them win the lady. The choice seems easy though. Hardy is the standout, his sexy lips and accent. Hardy is gorgeous. I don't see how Pine is any competition.

Three Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for some sexual content, action, violence and language.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 37 mins.


  1. Maybe I'm too miserable about this kind of stuff, or I don't believe in love, but whatever it is, I just hated this movie. I thought it wasn't funny at all, the leads were trying too hard, and I didn't even care for them either. Thankfully, Tom Hardy will probably have me forget about this in a month from now. Nice review Marlon.


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