Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre Review | Spy Movie Standards

by Andrew Parker

Director and co-writer Guy Ritchie’s buoyant spy caper and franchise non-starter Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is a fine enough movie to watch on a weekend afternoon when one has nothing better to do. It’s snappy, breezy, and goes down easy, but nothing about it is particularly original, novel, or even all that captivating. It’s not boring, but Operation Fortune definitely coasts by on a wealth of charm and swagger rather than on the merits of a compelling story or a ton of impressive action sequences. It’s a good time, but not much else.

Ritchie re-teams with actor Jason Statham, this time playing the hilariously named Orson Fortune, a privately contracted secret agent who often works on behalf of the British government. Orson’s boss, Nathan (Cary Elwes), calls the spy back to duty from vacation because a mysterious, high value Macguffin known only as “The Handle” has been stolen in a high profile heist. No one really knows what “The Handle” does, but its sale is being conducted by ruthless arms trader Greg (Hugh Grant), and has attracted the attention of various evil organizations around the world. Orson, Nathan, tech expert Sarah (Aubrey Plaza), and utility footman JJ (Bugzy Malone) are tasked with stopping the sale and finding out what’s in the mysterious briefcase. Their plan revolves around getting close to the arms dealer by putting him into close contact with his favourite movie star, Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett). Francesco previously turned down tens of millions to attend Greg’s birthday party, but is basically blackmailed into helping here. Fish out of water Danny pals around with Greg, while everyone else goes about their spy business.

The plot of Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is as convoluted and twist filled as one expects, but none of it really matters. It’s all pretty simple stuff to follow, and little more than a thin excuse to showcase actors looking cool, doing cool things, and hanging out in cool locations around the world. It might be easy to dismiss this Ritchie effort as just an excuse for all involved to take some nice paid holidays while shooting a film on the side, but Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre showcases the filmmaker’s better impulses, and everyone has been hired simply because they’re the right people for the job.

B-movie Ritchie is vastly preferable to misguided blockbuster Ritchie, and Operation Fortune: Rise de Guerre is more comfortably in the director’s laid back wheelhouse. The plot from Ritchie and co-writers Marn Davies and Ivan Atkinson steams along at a good clip, despite the action beats being few and far between. Pretty much every scene in Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre revolves around the team of spies trying to accomplish a certain task, and either failing or succeeding in a bid to accomplish their goals or stymy the efforts of a rival team of mercenaries trying to get get a handle on “The Handle.” It’s stylish and more than a little bit tongue in cheek, making the more ridiculous and implausible stretches a bit more charming. Coming off similarly enjoyable mid-budgeted fare like The Gentlemen and Wrath of Man, this continues a string of decent B-grade flicks from Ritchie, and hopefully he keeps going down this path whenever he needs a break from making largely boring large scale pictures.

The casting is impeccable here, with the heroes and villains playing wonderfully off each other. Statham gets to play on the more comedic and sarcastic side of his well honed on screen persona as Orson, and he bounces nicely off the droll and equally snippy Plaza. Malone makes a strong impression as the swing man. Elwes is a blast to watch as the upper crust boss who isn’t afraid to get his hands slightly dirty. Hartnett gets a rare chance to go big with his turn as the aloof, self serious thespian, and Grant always delights whenever he’s in villain mode. The story of Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is little more than an excuse to showcase these performers in the best light possible.

And that’s all one is really going to get from Operation Fortune. It builds to a big reveal that’s more obvious than a lighthouse on fire, and it requires that the villainous spies be incompetent boobs incapable of even the most basic of contingency planning. Some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends. You probably get the gist of it. It’s all been done before, but at least Ritchie puts it together in a decently entertaining and unchallenging package.

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is available to stream exclusively on Prime Video starting Friday, April 7, 2023.

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