So Guy Ritchie’s template of gathering an array of male characters who are, to quote ‘The Fast Show‘, ‘a little but wooooooh, a little bit whaaaaa’ combined with storylines that flit back and fore with sharp one liners and in that way has sort of created his own genre and despite forays into Hollywood with Aladdin and King Arthur he returns to the template and applies it, once again, to the action spy thriller with Operation Fortune Ruse De Guerre.
Jason Statham is Orson Fortune a solider of…well fortune a hard man spy but with a load of phobias and a love of fine wine who is hired by Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes on fine form) on behalf of the British government to retrieve ‘the handle’ something of a Macguffin and what it is is only actually revealed far later in the film – a missed opportunity and unfortunately one of many in the film. Accompanying him is Aubrey Plaza and Bugzy Malone ( we’re guessing that’s not his real name – though it turns out he’s a rapper – no, us neither). Their up against leering arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant) who is intent on to selling it on to even less appropriate hands in exchange for billions of bucks. And aiding the action trio is Greg’s favourite actor an unwitting and out of his depth Danny Lawrence (Josh Hartnett – whatever happened to him?) in a bid to wiggle their way into Simmonds company in order to get ‘the handle’. But the gang soon find that they’re not the only ones after it.
It’s an entertainingly breezy first act but Ritchie’s flair for labyrinthine plotting is not as on point as normal and Operation Fortune soon becomes standard action fayre with generic double crosses and comic nods but again not on a par with Ritchie’s best films. The script ignores obvious chances to show just how funny Statham can be – his many phobias are, once mentioned at the start, never to raise their head again. Nor is his penchant for fine wines. Malone sits in vehicles looking at computer screens and Aubrey Plaza, who’s becoming one of our favourite actresses, is fun but her lines needed sharpening. It’s only really Grant who continues to effortlessly steal just about every film he is in these days and here his estuary tone and tinted sunglasses give him an aura of tawdry sleaze that he did so brilliantly in Ritchie’s ‘The Gentlemen’ – another film that he stole wholesale! What we want now is to see the Bond producers cast him as the next Bond villain
Operation Fortune has had a chequered release history – Originally titled ‘Five Eyes’ it was shot during the various covid outbreaks and was set for a 2022 release but was twice pulled then sold by distributer STX to Lionsgate before now popping up on Prime. It deserved better as whilst it is far from being Ritchie’s best it is an entertaining Saturday night movie with enough of the director’s flourishes to keep the action moving
Related feature: Making Guy Ritchie’s ‘The Gentlemen’ gentlemen
Related feature: Hugh Grant & Matthew McConaughey introduce, ‘The Gentlemen’
Here’s the Operation Fortune Ruse de Guerre trailer….
Operation Fortune : Ruse de Guerre is exclusively launching on Prime Video on April 7th 2023