Review: “Operation Fortune” is a Lazy, Half-Hearted Action Comedy

With most of the cast on cruise control, Guy Ritchie’s Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is a shell of better films from both the director and the actors.

Jason Statham stars as Orson Fortune, a super-spy with expensive tastes. Following the theft of a device called “The Handle” worth billions of dollars, Fortune’s handler Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes) recruits Fortune to retrieve the device. The team includes hacker/spy Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza) and sharpshooter JJ Davies (Bugzy Malone).

The team realizes arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant) is selling the device, so they blackmail Simmonds’ favorite movie star Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett) to infiltrate his security. While trying to sidestep competing intelligence teams, Fortune and the team hope to retrieve the device and discover who is really trying to cause chaos.

The plot is far too complex and twisty to make any sort of sense over the stretch of the narrative. As the plot develops further, it’s hard to keep up, much less care about what is actually happening. It should be silly fun, but it’s just silly. What should be thrilling, turns into ambivalence.

Ritchie’s films are often characterized by style over substance, but the style is severely lacking. There are lavish villas and super-yachts, but nothing memorable. The characters are severely underdeveloped, which makes the resulting danger that much less suspenseful. Every car chase, shootout, and fistfight are foregone conclusions that become tedious as opposed to the fun they should be. Nothing is fun when it should be at least mildly entertaining.

Statham is stuck between genres. He is not as serious or committed to the ridiculousness of The Transporter films or Crank, but he’s not as funny or self-aware as he was in Spy. He’s in this action-comedy purgatory where being boring is his primary motivation. Grant has the flashiest of the roles, but even he doesn’t get as into it as he should be. His role has shades of his previous collaboration with Ritchie in The Gentlemen, but none of the fun he was having.

Hartnett is the one who is happiest to be included in this cast, but his role is undercooked. Plaza is a welcome addition to the cast, but her one-liners and relatively low-key tone doesn’t mash with the ensemble. Elwes is strangely playing British, but he is the only one who actually understands what kind of film this is. Malone fits the physical needs of his tough guy role, but his character is also underdeveloped and underused.

Even Ritchie isn’t committed to the bit. He recycles his old action bits (non-linear snippets, unorthodox framing), but a lazier version. Each decision is half-baked and half-hearted. There is an interesting, entertaining film in the bones of what Ritchie is doing, but everyone involved would need a strong cup of coffee and good night’s rest to make it happen.

Guy Ritchie and each actor have all made films better and more entertaining than Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre. Seek those films out instead and set this one aside. It’s harmless, but unfortunately it’s also not fun.

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre opens in theaters on Friday, March 3rd
Score: 2.0/5.0

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