This Means War
Love means never having to say you’re sorry about illegal surveillance
CIA agents Tuck (Tom Hardy: Warrior) and FDR (Chris Pine: Unstoppable) are top agents assigned to take down German terrorist brothers. The job goes bad, terrorist Heinrich (Til Schweiger: New Year’s Eve) vows revenge and the two agents are grounded in the Los Angeles field office.
What do bored agents do when they can’t wear suits and shoot up nightclubs?
They look for love in this crazy modern world.
Sensitive Tuck is broken up about his divorce and new role as a single dad. Lothario FDR is looking for a bed warmer. Using an online dating service, Tuck meets Lauren (Reese Witherspoon: Water for Elephants). FDR does a little reconnaissance for his friend and bumps into Lauren after her date with Tuck. Sparks fly, and soon our lady lead has a very full social schedule.
Lauren is a product tester who is unlucky in love, in the way that gorgeous women are in romantic comedies. So she counts herself fortunate when she starts dating two handsome, eligible men. In a quandary about whom to choose, Lauren evaluates the boys like she does products. She decrees Tuck sensitive but safe. FDR is a jerk only because he’s been hurt before, which challenges her to be a better person.
If you know the language of romantic comedies, you already know whom she’ll pick.
What Lauren doesn’t know is that these gentlemen have wire tapped her phones, placed cameras in her house and further violated her civil liberties by assigning task forces to dig into her likes and dislikes. As tax season approaches, keep these government agents’ lovelorn surveillance in mind.
It’s not that either man wants Lauren; it’s that neither wants the other to win. So each spy gathers a team to ruin his competitor’s dates. This includes but is not exclusive to taping bedroom escapades, which, if not unforgivable, is at least prosecutable in most states.
Consider, for example, the bugging of Lauren’s apartment: While she dances in nothing but a sweatshirt, two men sneak around her house, just out of her sight line, planting cameras and microphones. Add a violin on the soundtrack instead of a booming pop song and you’ve got a sequence straight from a horror movie.
In a more enlightened world, these shenanigans would teach our antiheroes that all this competition isn’t about the girl. Indeed, the movie crackles with chemistry when Hardy and Pine spar verbally and physically. But sadly, this is a McG (Terminator Salvation) movie, and that means at least one dude has to bag the pretty lady.
If you can get beyond the disgusting, invasive nature of the romance, there are some genuinely funny bits. Taking Lauren on a paintball date to prove his manliness, Tuck turns a family-friendly game into a paint-splattered version of Apocalypse Now.
Still, the filmmakers don’t want you to dial 911 whenever you see Tom Hardy or Chris Pine. So they try to redeem them. The few hours a day they don’t spend sparing with each other or stalking a leggy blonde, these agents half-heartedly try to catch that German terrorist. Heinrich proves elusive until the last possible moment: the perfect time to convince Lauren that these guys aren’t just stalkers, they’re heroes.
After a few laughs and a lot of frustration, This Means War left me with one important lesson: If CIA agents ever ask you out, dump them and date the terrorist. At least he’s honest about his motivations from the start.