Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

Not the Guy Ritchie film I want to see again.

A weapon has been stolen, and the British government doesn’t know what it is exactly, other than its label: “The Handle.” But whatever it is, the government enlists a team of operatives must infiltrate it. And whatever it is, it could end up being something much bigger than they feared. That’s the set-up for Guy Ritchie’s latest crime caper “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre,” which features an A-list cast including Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, Josh Hartnett, and Hugh Grant-some of them Ritchie has worked with before and others he’s collaborating with for the first time-but it’s not one of the great filmmaker’s best works.

This was supposed to come out last year, but got rescheduled without comment, and this year, it came out internationally, and finally gets a domestic release this week. When movies keep getting delayed (for non-COVID reasons), they usually do more harm than good, finically speaking. But that’s not really the reason why I didn’t care for this the way I did for “Snatch,” “Sherlock Holmes,” and “The Gentlemen,” among others.

Statham knows how to fight his opponents, and his stunt work is still impressive here. I love how his character Orson Fortune (hence the title: “Operation Fortune”) walks with stolen jewelry while the bicycle scene from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” plays. That scene has to love “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” to keep the style in tact.

But the story isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Fortune is enlisted by Agent Nathan Jasmine (Elwes) to infiltrate the Handle. His teammates include the point man JJ Davies (Bugsy Malone) and the computer girl Sarah Fidel (Plaza), and they also blackmail movie-star Danny Francesco (Hartnett) in order to get closer to the man who covets the device-Greg Simmonds (Grant). And Francesco is his favorite movie star.

The plan works out perfect for them, as Simmonds invites Francesco to his villa in Turkey, and has a thing for Sarah. She’s supposed to turn him on.

I feel there’s a distinction between the commercial and independent films Plaza does, based on her acting skills. On one side, she becomes the comical deadpan actress, and on the other, she has the moods and charisma of a small time character in dangerous territories. She was able to prove that last year in “Emily the Criminal,” but in this movie, she didn’t work for me.

Among the other stars, Hartnett overacts when he freaks out at times and acts like the dopey big shot, and Grant doesn’t have the kind of charm and attitude he would usually present himself. They both portray standard characters, and these two actors have worked with Ritchie before.

The one co-star I did like is Elwes, who can use his charms as the main British agent without acting like he’s labored in the screenplay. I just can’t wait to see who he plays in the next “Mission: Impossible” movie, as long as he doesn’t get cut out.

“Operation Fortune” doesn’t distinguish itself from other Ritchie entries, because it’s basically more of the same with the tough British dialogue and situations that have worked well and funnier before in the past. It tries to allow Statham to carry the film with his acting and fighting skills, and he can handle both positions. But he isn’t given the kind of story to allow his character to excel.

Ritchie has done better and can do better than succumb to repeats. I hope his next film “The Covenant” will prove me right.

Rating: 2 out of 4.

Categories: Action, comedy, Thriller

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