Review of slow-paced Jason Statham action film, ‘Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre’

May 5, 2023 Mario Bautista 1214 views

Fortune1JASON Statham was first noticed in “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”, a hit gangster-comedy film helmed by British director Guy Ritchie whose claim to fame then was he is married Madonna for a while. He followed it up with another hit, “Snatch”, starring Brad Pitt.

He then directed Madonna in a remake of Wertmuller’s “Swept Away” and it’s a critical and box office failure called by some as the year’s worst movie. He then came up with more failures like “Revolver” starring Jason Statham, the remake of “The Man from UNCLE” with Henry Cavill, and “King Arthur” with Charlie Hunnam.

He redeemed himself in the musical, “Aladdin”, a hit worldwide. His last two films both starred Jason Statham. “Wrath of Man” is a fairly watchable action-drama. Now comes “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre” where Statham plays a super spy named Orson Fortune.

The movie opens with an action scene where some Ukrainian gangster steal a device called The Handle, which can be programmed to defeat the security system of any country in the world. Billionaire arms dealer, Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant), wants to possess it, so he can sell it to the highest bidder.

British official Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes) then assigns Fortune to retrieve the handle. He is initially against it but relents and accepts to do it with an elite team of operatives led by Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza) and JJ Davies (English rapper Bugzy Malone.) They fly to Madrid where a courier will transport the Handle.

It turns out that another thug, Mike (Peter Ferdinando), is also hired to retrieve the Handle. They are able to put one over Mike by getting hold of the courier first and Sarah, an expert hacker, succeeds in copying the Handler’s hard drive. They then go to Cannes, where Simmonds is hosting a big party on a yacht.

But first, they have to get the cooperation of Simmonds’ favorite actor, big Hollywood star Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett, who also co-starred with Statham in ‘Wrath of Man), to cooperate with them. He agrees to work with them after they blackmailed him with a video showing him having sex with his sister in law.

Sarah pretends to be Danny’s girlfriend and Simmonds, an avid movie fan, invites them to join him to his villa in Antalya in Turkey. Sarah agrees so she can hack the computers of Simmons in his house. Complications occur when Mike, who now works independently, interferes and steals the Handle. The film’s climax shows the bloody encounter between the two men and their respective cohorts.

The movie is presented as an action comedy but it’s not really successful, as most of the attempts at making audiences laugh do not really work. In all fairness to Statham, he does deliver in the action sequences as an operative who does not play by the rules and always ready to defy his UK intelligence superiors.

But he is easily upstaged by his co-stars, notably Hugh Grant as the villainous, very rich arms-dealer. Grant was previously seen in Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen” and he also played a villain effectively in “Paddington 2” as a ham actor who is sent to jail.

He is made to deliver horribly vulgar lines like spelling a password as “Big C, for Clit”, and he does it with aplomb and no sense of decency whatsoever. While Aubrey Plaza plays her role with so much tongue in cheek, delivering her sardonic one-liners in a deadpan manner that is oddly charming to watch on screen.

The movie is actually a convoluted spy flick where the uninspired action set pieces look quite predictable, like the big shootout at the airport and the double crossing at the Cannes event. Even the pacing is so sluggish we really got bored specially in the middle where nothing much is happening. We should have viewed the lackluster title as a warning on how tedious the movie’s two-hour running time could be.

Ritchie seems to be a fan of Paul Newman and Robert Redford as he pays homage to their classic film, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and its catchy theme song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”. His tribute is cute, but the movie itself seems more like a very poor man’s version of a “Mission Impossible” flick without Tom Cruise in it. By film’s end, we were completely uninterested as to what will happen to its characters.