"Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" stars Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Josh Hartnett, Cary Elwes, Bugzy Malone, and Hugh Grant. Released on March 3, 2023, the film has a spy and his team retrieving a device from an arms dealer.
The film was directed by Guy Ritchie, who also directed films such as "Snatch", "Sherlock Holmes", and "The Gentlemen". Many spies worldwide strive to maintain peace for humanity with their skills, gadgets, and good looks, not just in real life but also in the movies. This weekend, the world of cinema introduces us to a new spy worth cheering for, and his name is Jason Statham. There's a good chance some of you remembered this latest spy movie from Guy Ritchie before it disappeared from your brains a year ago. That's because it was supposed to be released last year before it got delayed without reason…at least until recently. It was reported that the film was delayed because of its timing and characters, not just the COVID-19 pandemic. It was previously scheduled for a 2022 release during the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. However, because the film has Ukrainian people as bad guys, the producers saw it as being in poor taste. Don't you hate it when stuff that's out of our control affects the film's quality? Thankfully, the movie managed to finally see the light of day this weekend, with Guy Ritchie and Statham hoping to provide strong counter-programming for audiences thirsty for some spy action. With that said, let's see if the film has enough stylistic flair and thrills to join the high ranks of spy cinema.
The story centers on Orson Fortune (Statham), a super-spy hired by Nathan Jasmine (Elwes) and the British government to tackle a critical mission. Fortune is tasked to retrieve a mysterious device, "The Handle", which was stolen by a gang of Ukrainian mobsters led by billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Grant). He's joined by a team consisting of hacker Sarah Fidel (Plaza), J.J. Davies (Malone), and movie star Danny Francesco (Hartnett). Together, they travel the world to prevent Simmonds from selling "The Handle" to the highest bidder.
Guy Ritchie has never made a bad film, except for 2002's "Swept Away". However, that doesn't mean he has no misses underneath his stylish belt in recent years. While there were some films I enjoyed from him like "Sherlock Holmes" and "The Gentlemen", the other ones didn't make as much of an impact as I expected from the well-known director such as "King Arthur" and "Wrath of Man". That's not to say they're bad. On the contrary, they're watchable movies that are also easily forgettable after a couple of days. Either way, I still appreciate Ritchie's kinetic and charismatic presentation as much as anyone else, which is why I was looking forward to seeing his latest take on the spy genre.
But, of course, the other reason is that this is Ritchie's latest collaboration with Jason Statham after working on several films that usually deliver entertaining qualities in their plots. With these two together and the film's straightforward concept, the movie could be the solution they're looking for to win me over again. After all, who doesn't love Statham being his butt-kicking and suave self as a spy? Unfortunately, while it does deliver the spy antics it promised, "Operation Fortune" offers very little that we haven't experienced before in the genre. It had its moments regarding the movie's charisma and action, but it faltered in keeping the momentum going.
One reason for this troubling mission is the story. "Operation Fortune" is unsurprisingly a by-the-numbers operation that involves Orson working with his new team to recover an unknown device. The crucial thing about the narrative is that it doesn't try to be the next "Skyfall" or any other classic spy movie before it. Instead, it's attempting to be a fundamental popcorn adventure filled with globe-trotting scenarios and action set pieces. I'm usually okay with this approach as long as it offers enough mileage in the characters and plot for me to forgive its formulaic shortcomings.
"Operation Fortune" mostly succeeds in delivering the charismatic flair to its uninspired characters regarding the cast and humor. The plot, not so much. Regarding its thinly-scripted narrative and underwhelming finale, the film had the right idea for its tone. Sadly, it quickly struggles to keep the momentum going after a while and puts itself on autopilot for the remaining runtime. As for the comedy, the film has the potential to be a fun laugh riot amid its adult-rated violence, but like its plot, it fell short of being anything special. Many comedic moments lacked a convincing punch to get me laughing constantly, but for some that did, they worked well enough to keep me entertained.
As usual, Guy Ritchie maintains the similar flair he used in some of his previous films regarding his direction. He's got the typical approach he's known for in specific scenes like the GoPro-like shots, well-paced action, and British dialogue. But, more importantly, Ritchie always provides charm and comedy to his colorful characters. While his direction for "Operation Fortune" falls short of what he delivered in 2019's "The Gentlemen", it showcases Ritchie as a filmmaker who can make even an average action movie appealing through their vision.
Jason Statham once again provided a charismatic essence regarding his performance as Orson, a spy forced out of retirement to retrieve the Handle. Whether he's cracking jokes or cracking someone's bones, Statham continues to showcase his worth as an entertaining action star, even in his 50s. Aubrey Plaza also did a decent job with her role as Sarah, and Josh Hartnett is quite suitable as Danny Francesco, even though he can be obnoxious sometimes. Finally, we have Hugh Grant, one of the film's more amusing parts. Grant's take on the antagonist Greg Simmonds delivers plenty of appeal into his bad-guy persona, which is enough to keep the movie from being a bore.
Overall, "Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre" is a basic spy adventure that offers plenty of charisma and action but winds up being nothing but a ruse regardless. Guy Ritchie and the cast made an honest effort to provide old-fashioned entertainment in its action sequences and plot. Sadly, they're not enough to cover up its thinly-written narrative, run-of-the-mill characters, and hit-and-miss humor. I did find myself enjoying the movie for what it's supposed to be, but like some of Ritchie's previous films like "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." and "Wrath of Man", there's nothing else in this operation that I'll remember after a couple of days. If you like Ritchie's other films and spy movies in general, then there's no harm in you watching this one at home.