Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is just barely fun enough if you go in with expectations in check, though it's all been done before in better films.

Film Review: Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

Film Reviews

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre
Director: Guy Ritchie 

Miramax and STX Films
In Theaters: 03.03

In 2015, Guy Ritchie suffered a career setback when his comic spy thriller, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., bombed at the box office. The stylish British filmmaker is now giving the genre another go with the espionage caper film Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre.

When a top-secret gadget known as “The Handle” is stolen, the British government turns to spy-for-hire Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes) to assemble an elite unit of skilled operatives. Nathan has his go-to guy Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) on point, crack shot sniper J.J. Davies (Bugzy Malone, The Gentlemen) watching his six and brand-new computer hacker Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza) stepping in as a last-minute replacement for the usual tech guy. The target: arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant), who intel believes is in possession of “The Handle” and plans to sell it to the highest bidder. In order to get in Simmonds’ good graces, Nathan’s team coerces the eccentric billionaire’s favorite movie star, Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett, Pearl Harbor), into charming his way into Simmonds’ inner circle.

The premise of Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is a combination of every Mission: Impossible movie and The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, and the plot is often a  convoluted mess. Fortunately, this sort of film really only has a plot in order to create a framing device for action and antics. As long as it can deliver a great ride, no one really cares if it makes sense. 

It’s a shame that Operation Fortune never quite hits its stride, spending most of the 114-minute runtime going in circles. Ritchie mutes his frenetic signature style to the point where there’s little in the way of creativity or panache. Every time there’s a spark indicating a great sequence starting, it fizzles out. A prime example is a robbery that has Plaza singing “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” as Statham does his thing. This starts out as giddily exciting until it becomes clear that, rather than seeing an intricate display of spy skills or acrobatics, we’re just watching Statham clumsily rifle through the contents of a safe in real time.

Elwes and Statham are well cast, and we’re teased with the idea that Fortune is going to be an interesting character who suffers from multiple phobias that make him a high-maintenance asset for Nathan. Sadly, this promising idea is abandoned as too many plot elements are juggled. Plaza is of course the real selling point and should be playing the lead. She brings her sexy charm and considerable comedic energy to the table, and there’s only so much she can do when the dialogue isn’t up to snuff—there’s a constant feeling that she’s thinking of a better joke than the one she’s telling. Hartnett is a pleasant surprise, making a more convincing movie star as Danny than he ever did in the 2000s as himself, and he and Grant have a surprising amount of chemistry.

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is just barely fun enough if you go in with expectations in check, though it’s all been done before in better films. While the title suggests that the producers are hoping for this to be only the first Operation Fortune adventure, it’s unlikely that this routine and often lifeless exercise will have many people clamoring for a sequel. –Patrick Gibbs 

Read more reviews of films wherein Aubrey Plaza is doing the most:
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