Friday, March 3, 2023

All dressed up with nowhere new to go


   In Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, Jason Statham joins director Guy Ritchie for a spy/caper movie that feels as if a lot of ingredients were thrown into a blender in the hope that a movie would emerge. It didn’t. Not really.
  Adopting the seriousness of a man who might have just lost his best friend, Stratham plays Orson Fortune, a mercenary who operates outside official channels. You know the drill. Orson fights the good fight but remains his own man. 
  Ritchie has been creating visual razzle-dazzle ever since his breakthrough with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, some 24 years ago. This time, he offers a less frenzied movie. We’re talking comparatively, of course.
   The story kicks off when (Cary Elwes), as a suave fellow who recruits espionage crews, enlists Orson to locate a weapon that has found its way onto the market.
   British intelligence -- represented by a character played by Eddie Marsan -- doesn't know what the object is. That's the job: Find out what's for sale and make sure it doesn't fall into the wrong hands. 
   Joining Fortune are Aubrey Plaza (as a sexy tech whiz) and Bugzy Malone (as a sharpshooter).  Both are underutilized.
    It doesn't take long for Fortune to encounter Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant), a sleazy arms dealer with tons of money. Sounding as if he's channeling Michael Caine's accent, Grant seems to be having more fun than anyone else in the movie. 
   Josh Hartnett joins in as Danny, a movie star who's supposed to help infiltrate the operation run by the star-struck Simmonds. That could happen, right?
    If you see Operation Fortune, it's probably best to give up on coherence and enjoy Grant's happy scenery chewing in a movie that sometimes plays like an off-the-rack helping of Bond. 
     Ritchie's too skilled totally to hit bottom, even with a movie that slides over what feels like old ground. Ritchie makes good use of luxe locations and (thank goodness) doesn't seem to be taking himself seriously.
     Most of the characters, by the way, are very well dressed.
     Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not recommending Operation Fortune; I’m talking about how to approach the movie if you happen to give it a try — now or in its non-theatrical afterlife.

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