‘Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre’ Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is an action spy comedy film directed by Guy Ritchie (Aladdin) from a screenplay written by Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson (The Gentlemen), and Marn Davies (Wrath of Man). Featuring Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Josh Hartnett, Cary Elwes, Bugzy Malone, Eddie Marsan, and Hugh Grant. The story follows super-spy Orson Fortune as he and his team employ famous actor Danny Francesco to help them steal a dangerous device from an eccentric arms dealer.

In London, Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes) walks down a hallway as flashes of an attack go across the screen. The attack is led by a gang of Ukrainian mobsters who manage to steal a device known as “The Handle.” The mysterious object is valued at around $10 billion and is sought by many terrorists and governments around the world. Nathan is hired by Knighton (Eddie Marsan) of the British government to gather a team and retrieve “The Handle” before billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant) can sell it to the highest bidder.

Nathan visits British spy, Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) while he’s on holiday in Morrocco to procure him to lead his team. Orson begrudgingly accepts and meets fellow team members Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza) and JJ Davies (Bugzy Malone). The team travels to Madrid, seeking to intercept the courier of the hard drive containing the data from “The Handle.” Before they can complete the mission their members are systemically neutralized and Orson realizes they are not the only team after the information.

I have been a fan of Guy Ritchie movies ever since he directed Sherlock Holmes. He has his own unique style and uses slow motion every chance he gets. He also likes to work with the same writers and actors so a lot of his films have a similar tone and atmosphere. There is usually crude humor and gritty fight sequences laced with sophisticated characters which work as an unlikely yet fascinating pairing. The only film that doesn’t fit within his usual motif is Aladdin (2019) even though he sprinkled in what he could. Ritchie brings all his sensibilities and more to Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre. The final product is a fun pseudo-parody of the spy genre.

The most stellar aspect of the film is its cast. Every character had great chemistry and worked as a cohesive unit. Jason Statham has played many characters like Orson Fortune before, but it doesn’t get old. The sophisticated yet hardcore super-spy is right in his wheelhouse and as they say, “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Aubrey Plaza excellently delivers her deadpan humor as the talented Sarah Fidel. Another example of Ritchie allowing his actors to play to their strengths. Josh Hartnett in a comedic role is something I have been waiting to see. Danny Francesco is not a role I would’ve cast him for, but he nails it. Francesco is a little goofy but never crosses the line into silly. My favorite character in the entire piece has to be Hugh Grant as eccentric billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds. Grant looks as if he is having the time of his life playing these types of characters for Ritchie. Like Francesco, Simmonds is goofy but never silly. There is an air of seriousness around him lingering over his unconventional façade. There is a scene near the end that shows just how dangerous he can be when pushed which is pretty awesome.

The story plays like James Bond meets Mission Impossible with a dash of I Spy thrown in. There are plot elements present from all these franchises that synergize into a fun action comedy. We visit many exotic locations, our characters deal with extremely wealthy individuals, and most of the people we see are extremely beautiful to look at. There’s nothing to hate about that combination in a movie like this. Especially with a director like Guy Ritchie mixing it with his unique recipe. I also love the title as it forces the viewer to do some research. Ruse de guerre is French for ruse of war. Generally meaning unconventional warfare where the opponent must be deceived by a clever scheme. The scheme in point being the use Danny Francesco’s acting ability to complete the mission.

The film does sometimes feel like it’s taking place in a box as if many scenes were shot using The Volume. You can tell when a background is digital versus when they are using practical sets. This should not be the case on a film with a reported $50 million budget. The Gentlemen was made on a smaller budget and looks better most of the time. This lack of practical sets could be because the film was shot during the COVID-19 Pandemic and it was harder to travel and get films shot on location. Another interesting aspect is that the film was delayed due to having Ukrainian bad guys. The film’s producers thought it was insensitive to release the film in 2022 due to the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian War. However, with the Ukrainians being featured scarcely in the film, I feel the delay wasn’t necessary. Unless during the delay the also cut more of their scenes from the final product.

If you like Guy Ritchie’s movies and action comedies this is a must-watch. The story is entertaining yet familiar, but with enough fun sequences to make you crave more. I give Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre a Decent 7.6/10. I hope we can get a sequel eventually as the ending sets us up for more missions with Orson and his new team. If they ever make it back from holiday.

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