Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre
by Hope Madden
Guy Ritchie’s latest, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, is neither the crisscrossing schemery of 2019’s The Gentlemen, nor the dour action plodder of 2021’s Wrath of Man. Although it has elements of both.
Like the former, the film delivers an incredibly talky tale of flippant action shenanigans undertaken by varying teams at cross purposes and boasts a delightful turn from Hugh Grant. Like the latter, it’s not very good and stars Jason Statham.
Statham plays Orson Fortune, a cantankerous special agent whose skillset is the only thing standing between some unknown item recently stolen and, you know, whatever it might do to the world.
That is the fun part. Fancy lad Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes) pieces together the team tasked with finding and returning the missing “handle” although no one knows what it is, so determining that bit will be useful as well. Figuring out who took it, why they took it and what they mean to do with it, then stopping them from doing it, whatever it is, represents the balance of the job.
Who’s to help Mr. Fortune? Bugzy Malone (rapper and regular Ritchie contributor) and Aubrey Plaza (the only truly new flavor in Ritchie’s crockpot of leftover ideas).
Plaza contributes that uncomfortable comedy she does so well, although it sometimes feels like she’s actually performing in a different film that has somehow broken into Ritchie’s movie. Still, she’s at least a lively and amusing distraction, although I can’t say she has real chemistry with anyone onscreen besides Grant.
Grant’s a hoot no matter whose scenes he is stealing, and Josh Hartnett surprises in a comedic role that would be more fun if it didn’t feel borrowed directly from (the entirely superior) The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent.
There are a few laugh-out-loud moments, and some scenes that push the film toward parody, although Ritchie and crew cannot land on a tone. Everything feels more like a brainstorming session than a finished film. Nobody gels, nothing hangs together. The action is just this side of exciting, the humor lands about 40% of the time, and one scene pulls directly from Team America: World Police.
Mainly Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre just made me wish I was watching Team America.