Potshots – This Means War

Here’s the truth: I walked into the cinema for this particular film knowing next to nothing about the filmmakers, the story and had only a passing knowledge of the actors by way of the posters on the way in. Even then, I failed to truly identify Reese Witherspoon, who, despite still being very beautiful, did not ring any particular bells at all. The only reason for me to watch this film was because the film wasbeing screened in a cinema that has beds, and none of the cheap stuff posing as beanie bags at Sunway Pyramid.

Gokil, Jakarta.It turns out that the film is pretty much a romantic comedy, starring Chris Pine as FDR (interesting acronym) and Tom Hardy as Tuck. They are both CIA special agents, in addition to being the very best of good friends. However, like chalk and cheese they are, as my grandmother is never, ever likely to say, and the suave player that is FDR has more success with women than the down-on-his-luck-with-women Tuck. Tuck remains somewhat attracted to his ex-wife, Katie (Abigail Spencer) with whom his young son, Joe (John Paul Ruttan), lives. It is clear that the feeling’s mutual, as it was hinted at that Tuck’s job is the thing that gets in their way. “You’re the only travel agent who travels,” Katie mentioned, which not only sparked an interesting insight into the day-to-day jobs of travel agents, but also explained that they know nothing of his international swashbuckling adventures consisting of hunting down Germans in Asia.

They didn't know who to pick for the Bond film, so they went for both.

Of course, that was until Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) came into the picture. Feeling somewhat down and desperate, and with plenty of salt vigorously rubbed into the wound by her happy ex, she was forced to open an online dating account. Coincidentally, Tuck would also decide on the same course of action, leading them to meet. Happenstancially (if that is ever a word), FDR would also bump into Lauren (on the same day! What are the odds…), and they would also both be attracted to one another. So we now have two CIA agents, at the very top of their game, battling it out for the affections of an attractive lady. Not a new thing, of course, but this…means war.

I have to admit, though, that the characterisation presented in the film did not quite fit my taste buds. A more detailed explanation would require a revelation of the film’s ending, which I would loath to do, but trying to keep that aside for a moment, what we essentially have here is a situation where both men are the protagonist and the antagonist, sometimes almost at the same time. The film, then, forces you to choose which of the two you’d root for, and while it may be split somewhere down the middle (Chris Pine being probably the default choice for many, while Tom Hardy is…British), the end of the film might leave you feeling somewhat disjointed, depending on who it is you’re rooting for. Both men get an equal amount of screen time, both of them were given similar exposure on their own personal history, and both underwent developments in their character as well. This is an interesting point I considered, and I shall leave it at that.

You know what they say about the British. They have big guns.

At least with the men. With the girl in question, Reese Witherspoon herself portrayed an interesting character. It doesn’t quite fit in with her goody two shoes image (in essence, she was ‘cheating’ on both of the guys at the same time), but putting that minor point aside, I thought that this was a role she could have sleepwalked in. There wasn’t much of a challenge, and she was there serving very much as the object of affection, holding an illusionary form of power; she thought that she was trying it out with both guys, but both FDR and Tuck knew what was going on, and decided to go after her with the mantra of “may the best man win.” I doubt much can be read into that, but I’m not sure how appealing a film with characters who cheat and lie every other scene would be to some people.

Of course, it is not a film meant for a deeper discussion, and quite frankly, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would. It certainly is an easy and fun enough film to enjoy with quite a number of fairly funny moments too. I find it an interesting film for McG to be making after ‘Terminator: Salvation’, but I realise that he may be the kind of director who’s more at home making this kind of film instead. Some of the sequences stand out; one, in particular, shot in a single take, showing both guys coming into her house and planting tiny cameras and bugs all over the place is very well done. I don’t know whether it would help his stated intention made some years ago of making more serious films, but what he did here, he did fairly well, and I enjoyed it enough.

Make love, not war.

Fikri thinks Abigail Spencer is hot.

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