Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels) writes, produces and directs Miramax’s latest action blockbuster – Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre. The film stars Jason Statham as Orson Fortune; a top-level spy tasked with locating and preventing the distribution of a new highly dangerous weapons system, being sold by the wealthy arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant). Despite his reluctance, Fortune joins forces with a team of elite operatives led by Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes). Together, they enlist the aid of the famous actor Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett) as they embark on a worldwide journey to prevent a global catastrophe.
After a recent string of both critical and commercial successes, namely 2020’s Wrath of Man and 2019’s The Gentlemen, I was excited for Guy Ritchie’s latest flick. I hadn’t seen much press for the film, but the winning combo of Statham and Ritchie was enough to have me hooked. Then you throw in Aubrey Plaza (Parks & Recreation) and Hugh Grant (Love Actually) and I was more than ready to strap in for – what I was hoping to be – another sleek, sexy, Guy Ritchie film.
Over the past 3 decades Ritchie has directed some of the most entertaining, witty and action-packed films. His distinct approach to character banter and action directing has made him a juggernaut of the genre. With films like Sherlock Holmes and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Ritchie has created a unique style that separates him from other directors in his field. Unfortunately Operation Fortune falls short of the standard that Ritchie has set for himself. His approach to this film is disappointingly safe and results in a fairly generic heist film. The premise was simple enough to follow and the variety of global locations keeps the film engaging, but with no major twists or unexpected ulterior character motives, the film ended with a fizzle rather than a boom! Operation Fortune doesn’t do anything particularly wrong, but almost everything on screen has been done better in Ritchie’s other films.
When it comes to a mundane plot in a film like this, I can forgive the monotony as long as the action is well shot and unexpected. Sadly, Operation Fortune didn’t deliver in this regard. Most action set pieces were generic close-quarters fist fights or run-of-the-mill shootouts. With the action genre being pushed to new heights within the past decade or so by films like The Raid (2011) and the John Wick franchise, I’ve come to expect more visual interest and variety – especially by someone like Ritchie.
With that being said, the film did have one major highlight that kept me engaged throughout – Hugh Grant’s Greg Simmonds. Simmonds was one part Michael Caine, one part Terry Tibbs from Fonejacker (you may need to google this reference). His ability to be both sleazy and charming was masterful and had me laughing at almost every line. The amount of joy Grant was having on screen was almost palpable.
The film’s other characters were serviceable, but nothing of note. Jason Statham does what he does best as a foul-mouthed Cockney who would kill you just for the fun of it, and Aubrey Plaza plays the ‘quirky’ tech wizz of the team that brings some much needed personality to the line-up. However, Bugzy Malone (The Gentlemen) seems completely wasted here as the mostly unused ‘weapons expert’. I also felt the same way about Josh Hartnett (Black Hawk Down) playing the part of moronic Hollywood A-lister, Danny Francesco. Francesco’s main addition to the team was to be the butt of the joke, which ultimately failed as Hartnett didn’t have great comedic chops.
Operation Fortune does nothing poorly, but none of it is massively exciting. The film paced itself well and ticked all the boxes it needed to keep me entertained for its 114 minute run time. I never got bored during the film, but it felt empty by comparison to Ritchie’s other films. Operation Fortune is a misstep from the action/comedy director, but certainly nothing to be embarrassed about. A good time can still be had (especially Hugh Grant’s scenes), with enough going on to keep you entertained, but it was just a little too formulaic for my liking.