The trailer for This Means War labels its two male protagonists, played by Tom Hardy and Chris Pine, as “the C.I.A.’s best.” While both men are easy on the eyes, to say the least, I’m not sure what government agency would truly desire – let alone pay – to have them working as undercover operatives.
Tuck (Hardy) and FDR (Pine) are partners and best friends who work in the C.I.A. field office in L.A. Having sacrificed most of their relationships for their jobs, both men’s love lives are in shambles. Daunted by the prospect of ending up alone, Tuck, a recent divorcé and the more sensitive of the two men, attempts to get out of his slump by creating a profile on an online dating website, where he meets equally desperate Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon), a consumer product tester who is still recovering from a breakup.
Their first date goes well, but a chance encounter between Lauren and womanizer FDR at a massive video rental store (the sheer existence of which is but one ridiculous aspect of the film) complicates matters. Just when Tuck and FDR think that nothing can ever come between them, and even profess that each would take a bullet for the other, Lauren enters their lives, acts more and more like an insecure teenager as the movie progresses, and steals both of their hearts. Soon the spies are competing to best use the C.I.A.’s resources for his personal gain.
One of the most preposterous scenes involves an outrageous invasion of privacy (of which there are many); Tuck and FDR stealthily creeping around Lauren’s apartment while she is there, planting hidden cameras and taking note of her interests. She is too preoccupied with her dance moves and rendition of an *NSYNC song to notice that two men have broken into her residence.
Lauren remains oblivious to the fact that these two men know one another, that they are spying on her, or that their dates are suspiciously extravagant, perhaps because of the confusing and erratic advice of her friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler) basically plays herself in the role of Trish, except that she is married and has children, to whom she claims the sippy cup of vodka that she totes around is filled with “special milk.”
The secondary plot consists of Tuck and FDR undertaking a covert assignment to locate a villain who is out to get revenge on them for killing his brother. While this mission is actually required by their jobs, it ‘s put on the backburner until it inconveniences the men’s courting of Lauren.
Still, the three leads are charming, while Handler is, as always, crudely funny. However, other elements of the film compromise the charisma of the stars. Some of the dialogue is funny, while other parts are merely tolerable, but the real fiasco is the surplus of utterly inconceivable scenarios – anyone who can afford to live in an apartment with a swimming pool as part of the ceiling is clearly not living off of a government salary. All implausibility aside, the chemistry between Witherspoon and the two leading men is adequate, but the real sparks lie in the friendship between Tuck and FDR. As abromantic action comedy, this movie really does have the ability to please any audience.