Offhand, I cannot think of too many films in which Reese Witherspoon appears that I do not enjoy. There has always been something genuine about her that I appreciate. I have seen Sweet Home Alabama (2002) dozens of times, and I love Legally Blonde (2001) as much as the next person. I have also already reviewed both of those movies. One of these days I will take a look at some of her more serious roles, like Wild (2014). I have seen it, but I have yet to cover it for The Legionnaire. In the meantime, you are getting This Means War (2012) because it is for free on Amazon Prime. I saw this one before, too, but remembered little about it. As I found, and perhaps you will too, it is somewhat of a shame that I could not recall it because there are some fun moments in it. Then again, I will probably forget it again in about a week.
Reese Witherspoon’s Lauren Scott in This Means War is not the first person we meet. Instead, we get two Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives, Franklin “FDR” Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck Hansen (Tom Hardy). They are on a mission in Hong Kong to retrieve the whatever device (its name is mentioned, but as it is never heard from again for the rest of the movie, thus it is “whatever”) from international bad guy Karl Heinrich (Til Schweiger). With some gun shots, kicking, helicopter antics, and a few other action clichés thrown in for good measure, they accomplish their mission, though Heinrich escapes. How could that ever come back to haunt them? Anyway, our two best friends return to their base of operations in Los Angeles, where their boss, Collins (Angela Bassett), is not pleased with their less than covert actions. She suspends them from active duty for a time. This gives each of them some time to work on their personal lives. For Tuck, this means setting up a dating profile, which has the full support of his womanizing friend FDR. Somewhere out there is Lauren, a product tester and recently single woman. She is under pressure to find a new boyfriend, particularly as she keeps seeing her ex, Steve (Warren Christie), around town with his new girlfriend. Without Lauren’s permission, her best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler) sets up an online dating profile for Lauren. Who should it match her with but, of course, Tuck. Because of his concern for his friend, FDR agrees to stay in close proximity to Tuck as they go out on their first date in case she turns out to be the crazy her person her Trish authored profile suggests. Instead, Lauren and Tuck hit it off right away, with Tuck even admitting that he has a young son named Joe (John Paul Ruttan). There rendezvous is short but sweet. When Lauren leaves, she happens to walk to a video store nearby where she bumps into FDR. He does not know that she had been his best friend’s date of a moment ago, and FDR begins flirting with her. Though she can tell he is a bit of a ladies’ man, she eventually agrees to go out on a date with him. Their night gets off to a rocky start as he takes her to a flashy nightclub that is not her style. As he is turned to order drinks, she gets up from the table and walks outside. Luckily for FDR, just as he catches up with her Steve walks up with his girlfriend. To show him that she is happy and with someone again, she hurriedly kisses FDR and he plays along. They then settle in for a more calm but no less encouraging evening eating pizza together. The next day at work, our two friends are eager to tell one another about their new flames. Since they have pictures of Lauren on their laptops, they reveal their new love interest to each other at the same time, and this when they find out that, uh-oh, they are dating the same person. Wah-wah. Their first thought is that one of them should back off, and FDR is the first to offer. However, he cannot deny that he likes Lauren, despite Tuck feeling the same way. Thus, their next solution is to be with her at the same time, and at some point Lauren will choose between them. This agreement is happening without her knowledge, though she has qualms that she expresses to Trish about being with two guys at once. Trish is all for it, and encourages Lauren to enjoy it. Lauren then becomes the target of two bored CIA agents using the surveillance tools at their disposal in order to get the upper hand at becoming the center of Lauren’s affections. In the process, the two close friends become bitter rivals, each doing what they can to sabotage the other’s efforts. Remember old Heinrich. Well, he has not forgotten about how FDR and Tuck had foiled his plans in Hong Kong, and has traveled to the United States to get his revenge. While FDR and Tuck had been pursuing Lauren, they were supposed to have been monitoring Heinrich. Our villain also knows about Lauren. Thus, on the day that Lauren is about to break up with Tuck in favor of FDR, FDR shows up to warn Tuck about Heinrich. A brawl breaks out between them, which is how Lauren learns of what the two had been doing. What mends the fences between our friends is Heinrich taking Lauren hostage, and the high-speed chase that ensues as they attempt to get her back. With Heinrich eliminated, and following some profuse apologies, Tuck accepts that FDR is Lauren’s man. No worries, though, as Tuck is able to pick things back up again with Joe’s mother, Katie (Abigail Spencer). We close with FDR and Tuck heading out on another mission, with FDR telling Tuck that he is proposing to Lauren . . . and admitting that he had once slept with Katie.
This Means War is not what you would call Christian dating. When I was younger, before I fully understood such things, I had an innate sense that the monogamous approach to the opposite sex that is the way Catholicism and other Christian sects is the right course. When I was five years old, I wanted to marry Amanda Becket, the first girl I ever kissed. Do not judge. It was perfectly innocent. Clearly, I did not marry this person, and I am currently discerning consecrated single life. Regardless, what that experience unwittingly taught me is that there was one woman for me. My parents, who do not practice the Faith, growing up always told me otherwise. Whenever a new girl would come into my life and I would talk excitedly about this person, especially as a late teen/early twenties young man, they would always caution me about settling for one person. If I could go back in time, I would show them this movie as a reason why the Christian approach is better. There are those who might look at this and say that they are all consenting adults, and in the end, no one is truly hurt. In fairness, too, few of us have the resources of the CIA to utilize in pursuit of a date. The point here is that this is fanciful material, but the lessons are the same. This love triangle nearly ruins a friendship and almost gets people killed. This last bit is a little less likely in the real world, but the first hypothetical is much more possible. In the Christian sense, dating is meant to be done in order see whether or not the other person is a good fit for marriage. Outside of Mormons (and even that is complicated), polyamorous marriages are not allowed. The final piece of this is the sex. For Lauren, this is the last item she feels she needs to check off her list before she makes a decision between FDR and Tuck. Of course, premarital sex is a no-no in Christianity, and the film, albeit in an extreme manner, illustrates why. Though our society seems to look at coitus in an increasingly lax manner, most people still take it seriously enough that when you add it to the mix of what you see in the movie, it leads to fist fights. No one wins in that scenario. God reserves sex for marriage because it is special, and should not be spread around so wantonly as Lauren does.
I am making This Means War out to be worse than what it is when you watch it. The relationship between the three is not ideal. I could do without Trish’s awful advice, but that is Chelsea Handler for you. In other words, she is simply playing herself. If you take away the innuendo and actual sex (though no nudity), there are some genuinely funny moments. I do not know if I would call this a recommendation, but it could be worse. At least the former womanizer, FDR, changes his ways by the end.