This Means War (2012)

This Means War
Director: McG
Writer: Timothy Dowling, Simon Kinberg
Cast: Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, Til Schweiger, Chelsea Handler, John Paul Ruttan, Abigail Spencer, Angela Bassett, Rosemary Harris, Jenny Slate
Seen on: 14.11.2022

Content Note: stalking

Plot:
Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) are best friends and partners as the CIA’s top spies. But they couldn’t be any more different when it comes to romance, with Tuck always looking for his next big love, while FDR rather wanders from bed to bed. But then they both independently meet Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) and both really like her. When they discover that they are actually dating the same woman, they start to compete for her by using everything the CIA has to offer. Meanwhile Lauren doesn’t even know their jobs and agonizes over the decision between the two.

I know that there was a reason why I never watched this film back when it was in cinemas but I had forgotten what it was. When it popped up in my suggested films section as I was looking for something RomCom-y, I was too lazy to do any research and hit play instead. I really shouldn’t have. This is a film that pretends it’s cute to stalk and is so focused on the guys, it completely forgets Lauren’s point of view. I was honestly horrified by it.

The film poster showing Lauren (Reese Whiterspoon) standing between FDR (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) who are pointing guns at each other.

[SPOILERS]

As opposed to most stories about this kind of love triangle where a woman has to decide between two guys, This Means War is all about the guys and their feud. Even though they say that they will let Lauren decide who won, this quickly isn’t about winning her anymore, and just about beating the other guy with Lauren’s wishes becoming ultimately uninteresting except as a deciding factor. With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that the most emotional moment in the showdown isn’t when Lauren makes her wishes known but when the two guys make up and become friends again.

But this is far from the film’s biggest issue, although it just underscores how tacked on the scenes feel where Lauren tries to explain her side to her friend (Chelsea Handler) – these parts always feel like an early draft was criticized for Lauren’s lack of agency and those scenes were begrudgingly added to shut the critic up. Anyway, the film’s biggest issue is definitely that it doesn’t end with Lauren telling both of those guys to go fuck themselves, but, after a short shock moment, sinking into FDR’s arms for a happy end, not caring and/or forgiving him.

FDR (Chris Pine) smiling at Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).

Because what FDR and Tuck did to her is far from a “small misstep” or “a bit much”. I might have let it slide if it had just been the two of them doing an illegal background check on her. But that’s just the beginning. They bug her appartment and surveil her 24/7. Their dating becomes a soap opera for their entire CIA team. And FDR finally fucks her in her appartment, knowing that she will thus become a porn actor for his colleagues. It is fucked up from start to finish, and so far from forgiveable, I barely have words. If anything, Tuck behaves a little less assholish because at least he doesn’t fuck Lauren on camera with people watching, but it doesn’t change the fact that they should have both ended up as far away from Lauren as humanly possible. Preferably in prison.

I only finished the film because I was hoping that it ends with Lauren tearing them both a new one and walking away, but I was sorely disappointed. This entire film is such a shitshow, not even the more than charming central threesome or Angela Bassett have any chance at making anything about it work. If you were ever tempted to watch this, don’t repeat my mistake. Save yourself and walk away. Fast.

Tuck (Tom Hardy) and FDR (Chris Pine) on mission.

Summarizing: HELL NO.

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