Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

Review by Rich Cline | 3/5

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre
dir Guy Ritchie
scr Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies
prd Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Bill Block
with Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Josh Hartnett, Hugh Grant, Cary Elwes, Bugzy Malone, Eddie Marsan, Peter Ferdinando, Max Beesley, Parker Sawyers, Lourdes Faberes, Oliver Maltman
release US 3.Mar.23,
UK 7.Apr.23
23/UK STX 1h54

grant elwes sw

Is it streaming?

statham, hartnett and plaza
Bursting with attitude, this globe-hopping spy action thriller moves briskly through a snaky plot that's packed with wacky narrative gyrations. While the film is entertainingly sarcastic, its script is overwritten and wafer thin, relying on sharp comical dialog, glitzy settings and broad performances to hold the interest. And Ritchie uses his usual mix of jagged editing, offbeat musical choices and achingly cool actors to liven everything up considerably.
Recalled from holiday in Morocco, persnickety private contractor Orson Fortune (Statham) is hired for a special mission by the level-headed British government spy Nathan (Elwes). Orson is a bit thrown when he's assigned a new cohort in American comms expert Sarah (Plaza), alongside trusted goon JJ (Malone). Then in Madrid, a rival spy (Ferdinando) throws their plan into chaos. So they head to Hollywood to forcibly recruit top movie star Danny (Hartnett) to join their crew, then jet off to glamorous spots on the French and Turkish coastlines to take on arms dealer Greg (Grant).
A "ruse de guerre" is an unorthodox approach to war, so the script is packed with wildly absurd twists and turns as characters continually need to think laterally to get things done. Of course, these enjoyably quick-witted agents are equipped with whizzy gadgets and unlimited finances, even if they can't fathom why someone might be working at cross-purposes. But there's so little beneath the glittery surface, with its gorgeous locations and fabulous cars, that it's impossible to care when things spin off the rails.

Each actor skilfully creates comical edges, although the plot's convolutions prevent them from adding depth that would draw the audience in. So only a few become likeable. While Statham is effortlessly beefy, tetchy and dismissive, Plaza combines superb layers of intelligence and charm, diving gleefully into the action. Hartnett has a hapless quality that's engagingly ridiculous. And Grant is especially good fun, oozing rough-hewn charisma as the swaggering cockney villain.

There's a playful riff on Bond here, as this British government espionage agency has to use outsiders to do its work, requiring inventive solutions to the clashes that ensue. This feels very present-day, as does the rather dull world-threatening tech at the centre of the caper and the fact that there's an actor involved in the mayhem. The script never even remotely grapples with any of this, which leaves the movie feeling rather forgettable. But for a bit of slick, mindless entertainment, it might just do the trick.

cert 15 themes, language, violence 27.Feb.23

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© 2023 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall