Written by Beatrice Decruz
This Means War

“Falling is the best part.” ~ FDR Foster, “This Means War”

You may either fall for this light-hearted romantic comedy or think that it falls short of expectations.

Directed by McG, the movie is a love triangle and an undercover spy story that revolves around 2 CIA partners and life-long best friends FDR Foster (Chris Pine) and Tuck Henson (Tom Hardy), who have set their eyes on Lauren Scott (Reese Witherspoon), and they enter a war of love, trying to tug at her heartstrings. Ambitious career woman Lauren, finds herself torn between the suave American, blue-eyed FDR and the sweet, British gentleman Tuck, and to decide on the right man, she dates the gentlemen simultaneously. From having fun at a paintball shooting arena with Tuck, to an extravagant gift painting of Lauren’s favorite artist from FDR, your funny bone will be tickled and the hearts of girls will melt as the agents display their caring and also tough side while they take out the bad guys. However, power in authorities and privacy are breached as the agents make use of CIA resources to spy on each others’ advances towards Lauren.

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Rated PG-13, this movie may seem to be a simple action and romantic comedy but the underlying values portrayed made me sit up straight in my chair.
Supposedly as best buddies, FDR and Tuck made a gentlemen’s agreement that,

1. They will definitely not let this rivalry for Lauren’s heart; get in the way of their friendship.

2. No physical contact with Lauren until she has made up her mind.

3. No spying on each other and to have trust in their friendship.

But this agreement was forgone when one could not bear the intense curiosity while the other is out with Lauren, and both stepped in by planting bugs, and deploying surveillance teams, claiming that the situation called for a red alert. Does this mean that all that “I’ve got your back covered” and “I’ll take a bullet for you” talk gets thrown out of the window the moment a woman comes into the picture? It’s equivalent to saying that you can’t even trust your best friend. Well, at least where a woman is concerned… And where does this leave us? In a constant state of wariness and fear.
On the other hand, there’s also the breach of privacy and the misuse of authority. With power comes responsibility. These two men, unlike when out on a CIA assigned mission, acted like insecure teenagers due to the lack of trust in each other. To satisfy their curiosity, they crossed boundaries by invading Lauren’s privacy without her knowledge. Isn’t it a wonder that they weren’t kicked out of CIA after violation of protocol?

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Sure, Lauren had to go on dates with the guys to know them better and to help in her decision-making. However, when her close friend, Trish (Chelsea Handler), suggested that Lauren sleeps with them and the best in bed should be her ultimate choice, it got me worrying about the impact it may have on teens. Comparing the open culture in America to Singapore’s conservative but fast-learning society, teens may start to think and eventually consider that having sex is part of dating and it can help to decide whether the person is right for you. With voyeuristic undertones injected for humor, I also cringe at the thought that teens may actually start creating a mental list of what-to-do and what-to-say on a date, another worrisome thought when I think about my future dating prospects…

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To top it all, as Lauren frets over which guy to pick, FDR and Tuck can be seen punching each other’s faces in. And after releasing their anger in this physical combat, slight tension is released and they worked together to save Lauren from the evil clutches of the nemesis. The question I want to raise is whether it is necessary to beat the life out of each other to release tension? Isn’t it a subtle implication that violence can be a solution? Action sure seems to speak louder than words since the agents could only have a decent conversation after the fight.

Although it was neither a nail-biting nor heart-gripping movie that will have you on the edge of your chair, nonetheless, “This Means War” makes as good frothy entertainment for those on a date and can even help one get over the stress and worries of a day if, you take everything on the surface.