‘Operation Fortune’: an action film by Guy Ritchie that you immediately forget

Aubrey Plaza, Jason Statham and Bugzy Malone (from left) in “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre.” Daniel Smith/Lionsgate

Landing in multiplexes over a year late after some corporate reshuffling and rewrites (not a good idea for you bad guys to be Ukrainian mobsters at this point in history), Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is a slick and empty-headed spy thriller that is almost instantly forgettable. However, one single noteworthy element will probably stick with you long after every other aspect of this lumbering title actor has slipped unremembered into the pop culture ether.

Directed by: Guy Ritchie
Written by: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies
Starring: Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, Bugzy Malone, Josh Hartnett, Hugh Grant
Duration: 114 minutes.

So let’s raise a pint for Hugh Grant with that!

This is nothing new to Grant; the Four weddings and a funeral star has at least partially cashed in on the Cockneyed genre rehashes of Operation Fortune director Guy Ritchie since the pair first teamed up in 2015 OOM’s man (Grant’s hilariously seedy PI was also the main selling point of Ritchie’s 2019 cannabis hairdresser The gentlemen.)

This time, Grant gathers his inner Bob Hoskins in a joyful twist as a streetwise and star-struck billionaire arms dealer who brokers the sale of something called “The Handle”, a briefcase full of super tech that either controls the planet’s defense systems, the world’s economy or both – it’s hard to say.

Ritchie is about as interested in the details of his story as he is in the characters who populate it; that is, not at all.

Nor was Ritchie concerned about the script, which he co-wrote with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, the same pair who helped develop the story for The gentlemen. (That Grant laughed so much is entirely due to his demeanor, which is as smug and dry as a well-made martini, and not because he’s actually been given anything funny to do.)

Lourdes Faberes (left) and Hugh Grant in ‘Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre.’ Daniel Smith/Lionsgate

Ritchie – now in his 13th movie since making his directorial debut with 1998’s Lock, stock and two smoking barrelsis considerably more concerned with putting together a film. From an opening scene that syncopates the hard-hitting footsteps of Cary Elwes’s intelligence intermediary with a bloody attack on a tech lab to an explosive denouement high above London, Ritchie rhythmizes the film to penetrate our frontal lobes with near-frictionless efficiency. His films are cinematic Diet Cherry Cokes: They go away easy enough, provided you don’t think about what you’re ingesting.

In this outing, Ritchie is especially in sync with longtime musical collaborator Christopher Benstead, whose percussive and bouncy score provides a spark of vitality otherwise lacking in the script.

While the director’s love of craft can be seen in everything from the costumes (he’s long been one of today’s mainstream cinema’s most forward-thinking filmmakers) to the casting, it doesn’t extend to the performances—beyond Grant’s .

Jason Statham, on his fourth collaboration with Ritchie, does little more than go through the motions as a man who likes fine wine, “specific skills” sadly named Orson Fortune, while Ritchie newcomer Aubrey Plaza plays tech specialist Sarah Fidel as if she’s waiting for the valet to bring her car. Josh Hartnett, as a movie star used by the agents to lure out Grant’s superfan, seems so deeply lost you wonder if he’s even been given a character to play.

Indeed, Richie’s innate understanding of how to weave together the raw ingredients of the film form with his absolute slaughter of the dramatic elements makes you wonder if it wasn’t time for him to graduate to a form of filmmaking that relies less on character, dialogue. and plot – nature documentaries maybe?

As long as Hugh Grant is there to give the narration, of course.

Observer Reviews are regular reviews of new and notable movies.

'Operation Fortune' review: Another Guy Ritchie action flick you'll soon forget

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