Film in review: “This Means War”

F.D.R. Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck (Tom Hardy) are a couple of American CIA agents (though Tuck is British) who have passed themselves off as “travel agents” as a cover for their forays into exotic locales where they perform swashbuckling antics for “The Company.” They are best buds, and they un-self-consciously profess their love for one another. And with each other, at least, they always know somebody’s got their back.

Until a woman comes between them. They’re both single, and somehow manage to meet the same woman at the same time, unbeknownst to each other: at least for a while. Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) owns her own consumer product evaluation company, and is busy and important, but somewhat lonely. She has a best friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler), but no love life to speak of – except now she has double trouble.

The guys quickly figure out that they’re interested in the same woman, but decide to keep this from Lauren, making a pact that “may the best man win.” They then proceed – and here’s part of the comic antics – to use/abuse their investigative/monitoring authority to keep tabs on each other’s progress in the dating relationship. And what they don’t learn from illegal surveillance, they find out through Lauren’s wiretapped interaction with Trish.

In the meantime, the bad guy is an international terrorist who somehow gets connected to all this because he’s looking for some personal leverage against these agents. All of this might have played more realistically in other hands, but here, it’s comical to the point of farcical. In the end, we have a hard time believing either in the integrity of the romances or the reality of their workplaces. So we just settle for cute and stagey and forget about trying to go any deeper than that.

This Means War” is the chick flick rom-com trying to add some action sequences to somehow make it appealing to the dates the chicks are dragging to see it, but in trying to make everyone happy they probably come closer to pleasing no one.

Ronald P. Salfen is interim pastor of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas.

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