Operation Fortune Ruse de guerre: Review
Operation Fortune Ruse de guerre Synopsis: Elite spy Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) must track down and stop the sale of a deadly new weapons technology wielded by billionaire arms broker Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant). Reluctantly teamed up with some of the world's best operatives (Aubrey Plaza and Bugzy Malone), Fortune and his crew recruit Hollywood's biggest movie star, Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett), to help them on their mission to save the world.
A misfit team of spies infiltrates a sinister, world-altering scheme with the help of a clueless yet charismatic movie star in Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre. The fact that Fortune, the latest writing/directing effort from British auteur Guy Richie, is seeing the light of day in theaters is a miraculous occurrence in its own right. The film bounced around the calendar several times over the past year before landing in the hands of a new distributor, Lionsgate, as STX Entertainment underwent a substantial corporate overhaul.
I am glad Richie is getting the opportunity to continue his second-act career renaissance on the big screen. The filmmaker made a name for himself with charismatically cockney crime epics like Snatch, RocknRolla and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Each feature helped define Ritchie as a distinctive and infectiously energetic voice behind the camera - a skillset he then transitioned to studio projects with mixed results. For all the creative success he enjoyed with Sherlock Holmes and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., his efforts with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword and Aladdin received far more divisive appraisals (I will still stake my claim as one of the few fans of his kinetic King Arthur film).
Thankfully, Ritchie has made a welcomed return to his old-school roots. The Gentlemen and Wrath of Man represent two of his finest offerings to date, carrying Ritchie's signature mean-and-lean swagger in captivating crime yarns bolstered by thoughtful thematic sentiments. His winning streak somewhat continues with Operation Fortune - a weightless and dizzying globetrotting caper that still delivers a refreshing dose of cheeky entertainment.
Ritchie's confident presence can be felt throughout Operation Fortune. He and co-screenwriters Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies spin a busy narrative bursting with eccentric characters, sharp dialogue exchanges and swerving plot twists. The script is at its best when leaning into the colorful personality embedded within these dynamics, showcasing a clever penchant for eschewing expectations and maintaining a sly comedic tone. While there are some dramatic steaks throughout Operation Fortune, I love that the film unabashedly embraces the confectionary joys of breezy Hollywood escapism.
This approach benefits significantly from the film's star-studded cast. Jason Statham and Aubrey Plaza are a pitch-perfect match as sardonic spies with sharp witts and effortless chemistry. It's a joy to see the two play off each other as Plaza skillfully expands her limitless range into the action movie sphere. In addition, British rapper Bugzy Malone displays natural gravitas as one of Orson's new partners, while Hugh Grant, Cary Elwes, and Josh Hartnett chew the scenery with impressive comedic results.
Hartnett and Grant are particular standouts. Ritchie continues to peel intriguing layers from each actors' immense talents, viewing both in a new light outside the industry's tired typecasting tendencies (Grant was a standout in The Gentlemen and Hartnett left a strong impression in Wrath of Man). As ruthless billionaire Greg Simmons, Grant conveys a non-traditional foe who pops onscreen with smarm and instant screen presence. Hartnett also steals every scene he's in as the bumbling yet sincere movie star thrust into a life-or-death mission. To me, these performances are indicative of Ritchie's ability to draw outside the lines in impactful ways.
For all its charms, Operation Fortune does highlight some of Ritchie's shortcomings. There are so many characters and plot threads demanding viewers' attention here - so much so that some of the film's best aspects do not receive enough room to breathe onscreen. It does not help that the film overcomplicates itself at every turn, focusing extensively on plot jargon and meaningless mechanics that ultimately leave little to no impact. I would have loved for the movie to focus more on its makeshift spy team or several of the other quirky personalities. Instead, these promising parts render compelling sketches of ideas that desperately lack shading.
I still found myself charmed by Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre. Ritchie and his creative team conjure an infectious crime romp with enough personality and vibrancy to overcome its shortcomings.
Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre is now playing in theaters.