Today is Valentine's Day, a holiday which commemorates the armistice between global cacao manufacturers and the prophylactic industry after their centuries-long shadow war. To capitalize on this day of demure remembrance, the popcorn-industrial complex has released This Means War, a new motion picture event by director McG (Terminator Salvation, the music video for Sugar Ray's "Fly").
In This Means War, actors Chris Pine and Tom Hardy play two CIA wetworks operatives who fold the Constitution into a tiny origami water closet to woo Reese Witherspoon, who in turn plays a boringly attractive career woman.
On one hand, this is the first film to mine Americans' eroding civil liberties for a PG-13 romantic comedy. But with an open mind, This Means War becomes something else entirely — a stealth Star Trek sequel. Whether it's follow-up to Star Trek Nemesis or a stopgap Star Trek 2 is all up to you.
NOTE: Spoilers for the decade-old Star Trek Nemesis below, because we're assiduous and shit.
Before we begin, here's what I liked about This Means War, prima facie:
1.) Tom Hardy's character, despite his obvious British accent, is entrenched in the upper echelons of the CIA. This was a cozy throwback to Jean Claude Van Damme as Guile in Street Fighter.
2.) Hardy and Pine are charismatic actors trapped in a mediocre movie. It's not unlike watching a duo of handsome mice try to escape a Skinner Box programmed to open after 98 minutes, which is sort of novel.
Now, let's move on to the correct way to view this film. To start, why isn't This Means War covertly a team-up between, say, Bane and the male love interest from The Princess Diaries 2?
As I mentioned before, This Means War transforms the entire national security apparatus into a metaphorical extension of Hardy and Pine's dueling apparatuses. And when I say apparatuses, think flatworms.
The men bug Reese Witherspoon's house, tap her phones, tailor their personalities according to these illegally obtained recordings, trail her with unmanned drones, and profile her prior sexual partners. Their monomaniacal desire to date Reese Witherspoon is both creepy and unapologetically homoerotic (McG has joked about as much).
And to make matters even weirder, there are no repercussions from the spies' misuse of high-tech surveillance equipment. The CIA's internal affairs staff wing is seemingly staffed by mannequins and ghosts, and Reese Witherspoon's no-personality inamorata doesn't care that she's been cyberstalked the entire movie.
Also, This Means War is filmed in McG's house style — that is, it looks like the world has been shellacked by a fluke sirocco of PAM cooking spray. It's like a $70-million game of Leisure Suit Larry or Custer's Revenge. In other words, it's like a holodeck.
At this point, the question becomes, "Who is using the holodeck?" This Means War's casting couldn't have been coincidental. We have two options — Praetor Shinzon (an evil clone of Jean-Luc Picard from 2002's Star Trek Nemesis, played by Hardy) or Captain James Tiberius Kirk (Pine's role in 2009's Star Trek). To the best of my knowledge, Cruel Intentions wasn't a Star Trek movie, but I am willing to be convinced.
Given that holodecks had been invented in Shinzon's era, he could be in charge, perhaps for some Romulan emotional manipulation exercise.
But the incessant usage of "Sabotage" by The Beastie Boys (left) in This Means War firmly suggests that Kirk is in control. It's entirely possible alternate dimension Spock brought holodeck technology to the rebooted Star Trek universe, the same way he taught Simon Pegg's Montgomery Scott the secrets of mid-warp teleportation.
And what's more, this could be Spock's way of pitting Universe 2 Kirk against a more ruthless facsimile of Universe 1's Picard. Why would he do this? Maybe he wants alterna-Kirk to become a more efficient Captain. It's more likely the ending to Star Trek: Generations just didn't cook Spock's butter either.
Visiting an alternate universe must be like hanging out with bootleg versions of all of your friends, so I can see why, for parity's sake, Universe 1 Spock didn't program in the Patrick Stewart Picard (although that would've been fucking hilarious). Yes, I'm pretty sure This Means War would break box office records if they simply named it This Means War: Star Trek: Generations 2: The Bootleg Edition.