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‘This Means War’: The spy comedy that teamed Tom Hardy and Chris Pine as CIA dude-bros

Smitten by the same girl, Hardy & Pine turned espionage skills on each other in a fluffy rom-com with Reese Witherspoon.

By Benjamin Bullard
Chris Pine andTom Hardy in This Means War (2012)

Sometimes it’s fun to let skilled action stars stretch their legs with a silly script, and that’s just what audiences were in for when spy caper rom-com This Means War (now streaming at Peacock) landed in early 2012. After all, teaming Tom Hardy and Chris Pine with Reese Witherspoon makes for evergreen movie magic ... even if the movie in question is nothing more than a cheesed-up bro comedy (complete with wiretaps and sleeping darts) that just happens to feature a killer cast.

Hardy and Pine already were busting as budding genre stars when This Means War sneaked into theaters, thanks to an ongoing string of early-2010s sci-fi and superhero roles. Each was a veteran of separate Star Trek films at the time, with Hardy’s profile set to rise even higher later in 2012 as main Batman baddie Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.

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Add in Pine’s earlier rom-com bona fides from films like Just My Luck (2006) and Blind Dating (also 2006), and the duo’s star appeal set up nicely for a light-side comedy with endearingly familiar faces. Though it’s admittedly a pretty goofy tale, the fun of This Means War is found in Pine and Hardy’s on-screen rapport: These are two dudes armed to the teeth with all the trappings of next-level spycraft, and they each make the most of it by waging an insane game of friendly fire — all to woo the same shared love interest (marketing exec Lauren Scott, played by Witherspoon).

Even after the two ride-or-die spies realize they’ve fallen for the same woman, their mutual bro code remains mostly intact — despite forging a macho pact to let the best man win the girl by any means necessary. Of course that entails keeping their prior friendship (not to mention what they do for an actual living) a secret from Lauren, leading to an inevitable late-movie moment when Witherspoon finally gets to berate the two lunks for viewing her as little more than a trophy.

Machismo aside, it’s fun to watch Hardy and Pine play what most fans would recognize as low-calorie versions of their comedic selves. Pine’s womanizing CIA agent translates loud and clear from the actor’s earlier rom-com movies (and comes as a lighthearted foil to more meaty genre appearance in his Star Trek and Wonder Woman films). Fans of Sony’s Spider-Man story-verse, meanwhile, won’t have to stretch their imaginations far to see a lot of overlap between Tuck’s affable do-right role in This Means War and his later hero’s turn as Eddie Brock in Venom (2018) and Venom: Let There Be Carnage (2021).

Along the way, the movie serves up tons of backstabbing spy games, from bending the rules of CIA surveillance to making date-crashing shots with a tranquilizer rifle. If This Means War felt like a guilty pleasure then, it’s only more of one now: Rewatching Pine and Hardy try to out-spy each other today gains immense benefit from the hindsight of having gotten to know these guys and their on-screen personas better over time.

Catch Pine and Hardy putting their best James Bond foot forward — all in the name of love, of course — by streaming This Means War anytime at Peacock.

Looking for more buddy-based comedies? Try Are You Here, now streaming on Peacock.