This Means War (2012): McG Silly Movie, Starring Reese Witherspoon, Chris Pine, and Best of All, Tom Hardy

Director McG returns with “This Means War,” his first feature since that disappointing “Terminator” reboot, “Terminator Salvation,” in 2009.

He made his initial splash with the “Charlie’s Angels” movies (2000 and 2003), and, a decade later, his frenetic action style is starting to feel dated, as if from a past era.

Two hot actors, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, star in the new film as a CIA officers and best friends.

Hardy in particular, who looks very spiffy here, has a hot career currently, coming off of “Inception” (2010), “Warrior” (2011), and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (2011). He also has a big role in “The Dark Knight Rises” this summer that should accelerate his rise.

While “This Means War” suffers from a number of those chaotically cut McG action pieces, especially a loud but uninvolving opening in Hong Kong, the film’s greater suffering is found in the assembled talent going to embarassing lengths to try to make this project feel like a good time, much less a Valentine’s date movie.

FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) have been relegated to desk jobs after too many hijinks in the field.  Their desks are enviably enormous, and they work in the supersleek headquarters of the CIA—in Los Angeles. Angela Bassett makes a couple of brief appearances as their unforgiving boss.

Bored and unstimulated, they start to yearn for improved love lives. There is plenty of sexual tension between them—they might have made for a cute, bickering gay couple in another kind of movie.  They somehow inadvertently wind up dating the same girl, the lovelorn Lauren (Reese Witherspoon).

Tuck meets Lauren first, through an online dating service, then FDR runs into her at a DVD megastore, and they also click. Wait, a DVD megastore? According to this movie, DVD stores are not only still in business, they are happening places where many singles go to connect.

When FDR and Tuck figure out what has happened, they make a highly questionable “gentleman’s agreement”: to continue as is without informing Lauren of the game they are up to. What they do for work also has to be kept secret, of course, with FDR pretending to be a cruiseship captain and Tuck a travel agent.

The two taunt each other to excess as their rivalry intensifies and their former bromance crumbles, until Lauren finally—as if this were an episode of “The Bachelorette” TV show—gives herself a week to decide between the two. That’s when FDR and Tuck’s competition turns to war.

Using their CIA skills in surveillance and loads of CIA resources against each other, they make it next-to-impossible for either of them to have a successful date with their target, although Tuck gets her to do trapeze acrobatics with him and, in the film’s funniest sequence, coerces her into a day of paintballing. Lauren, meanwhile, is getting consistently bad advice from her sex-obsessed best friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler).

The climax of the film is zany enough, even if it makes no sense.


Lauren – Reese Witherspoon
FDR Foster – Chris Pine
Tuck – Tom Hardy
Heinrich – Til Schweiger
Collins – Angela Bassett
Nana Foster – Rosemary Harris
Trish – Chelsea Handler


A 20th Century Fox release.
Directed by McG.
Written by Timothy Dowling and Simon Kinberg.
Produced by Robert Simonds, James Lassiter, Will Smith, and Simon Kinberg.
Cinematography, Russell Carpenter.
Editing, Nicolas de Toth.
Original Music, Christophe Beck.

Running time: 97 minutes.