Thursday 9 March 2023

REVIEW: Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre - Starring Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Josh Hartnett, Cary Elwes, Bugzy Malone and Hugh Grant

Review by Jon Donnis
Did you know that Operation Fortune was supposed to be released over a year ago but was pulled as the bad guys in the film are Ukrainian mobsters, and Russia had just started their "special military operation" after Ukrainian armed forces bombed the Donbass region and broke a ceasefire? So, yes, the film was delayed so as not to upset the most corrupt country on the planet. Well, a year later, the film is out in cinemas and about to be released on Amazon Prime. Luckily, they haven't reshot anything, and the film is unchanged. With a star-studded cast and everyone's favourite Cockney director, Guy Ritchie, we have a comedy action thriller to enjoy.

"The Handle," a device estimated to be worth billions of dollars, has been stolen by a gang of Ukrainian mobsters. The British government has hired Nathan Jasmine (legendary actor Cary Elwes) to recover the device before billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant sounding a little bit like Michael Caine) can sell it to the highest bidder. To accomplish this task, Nathan enlists the help of super-spy Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) and a team of experts, including Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza) and JJ Davies (Bugzy Malone). The team travels to Madrid to locate the courier responsible for transporting the hard drive containing the Handle's data.

However, their search is disrupted by a rival of Nathan's, who also seems to have been hired to retrieve the Handle. Despite this setback, Sarah is able to make a copy of the hard drive's contents before they can. After discovering that Simmonds plans to hold a charity gala in Cannes, the team decides to infiltrate the event by blackmailing Simmonds' favourite movie star, Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett), into helping them distract Simmonds. To further their plan, Simmonds invites Danny to his Turkish villa in Antalya.

Meanwhile, Orson infiltrates the Ukrainian mafia's headquarters by posing as a robber to hack into their computer systems. The British government then warns Nathan that the Handle is equipped with advanced artificial intelligence capabilities, allowing it to overcome any security system in the world.

With a runtime of 1 hour 48 minutes, this is a proper comedy action thriller that I really enjoyed. Now, I usually hate Hugh Grant, but for the first time in any movie I have ever seen him in, I rather enjoyed his character. Maybe that is because he sounds a little like Michael Caine, or I just found him interesting, but I did want to give him a special mention. Cary Elwes is great as Nathan Jasmine, the government-affiliated guy trying to keep everything together. However, I do wish that Cary Elwes had uttered the immortal words "as you wish," but alas, we can't have everything we want.

Jason Statham plays the same character in pretty much every film he is in these days, and this film is no exception. Aubrey Plaza is slightly less awkward in her performance here as she is trying to move away from the geeky, socially backward type character that she usually plays to a more confident, sexy character.

The action scenes are all convincing, the visual effects and set pieces are all of the highest quality, which you would expect from a Guy Ritchie film. The comedy moments are well done and never feel too forced. And the ending is not only satisfying, but it also sets them up for sequels if they so feel.

All in all, a really good action comedy.

The Good
Hate to say this, but I really liked Hugh Grant in this film. Great action sequences, decent if slightly predictable story, and strong performances all round.

The Bad
1 hour 48 minutes is too long, a film like this needs to stick to 90 minutes plus credits. Some scenes in the middle of the film dragged slightly.

A really enjoyable film. And one I score a solid 8.5/10. I look forward to any sequels.

Out Now in Cinemas, and released on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom on April 7