Director: Ritchie Boy | Screenplay: Guy Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson, Marn Davies | Cast: Jason Statham (Orson Fortune), Aubrey Plaza (Sarah Fidel), Josh Hartnett (Danny Francesco), Hugh Grant (Greg Simmonds), Cary Elwes (Nathan Jasmine), Bugzy Malone (JJ), ea | Time to play: 113 minutes | Year: 2023
Guy Ritchie joins forces for the fifth time with action gun Jason Statham and comes with a fun twist on the spy genre. Operation Fortune it’s clearly intended for a wider audience with its straightforward plot and comedic slant, and that could be a game changer for fans. While not a typical Ritchie movie, it’s certainly an entertaining action comedy, one that you shouldn’t take too seriously. The movie itself doesn’t do that either.
The British secret service hires super spy Orson Fortune to prevent world-threatening technology from falling into the wrong hands. Orson’s regular team is busy, so he begrudgingly has to team up with the expert in everything but JJ and CIA computer specialist extraordinaire, Sarah Fidel. Tracking down a deal to trade the stolen gun codenamed “The Handle,” the team enlists Hollywood’s biggest movie star, Danny Francesco, to infiltrate the operation of filthy-rich arms dealer Greg Simmonds.
The movie gets off to a good start and immediately sucks you into the story. He quickly outlines the preconditions and introduces the characters. That is clear from the beginning. Operation Fortune it’s going to be an exciting ride. Thanks to the careful editing, the excellent camera work and the impressive soundtrack, the atmosphere is immediate. Depth is clearly the daughter of the bill, but with Guy Ritchie at the helm you’re confident it will work.
However, as the plot progresses, he turns out to be a Ritchie in a reduced form. A Richie light. All the usual elements are present but come together less forcefully than the director has us used to. The movie works through a relatively standard action/spy scenario and follows a straight line from start to finish. Plans are faked, computers are effortlessly hacked, predictable hits are taken, and identityless villains are cut down. It all looks spectacular, but it’s too easy and uninspiring.
The spy genre’s fast pace and parody approach makes up for a lot, but with a movie with a Ruse de Guerre (war trick) in the title, expect a little more intrigue. Ritchie replaces in Operation Fortune his authentic British flair, including alienating Cockney English and sophisticated black humour, through lifeless fanfare for the general public, flattening his layered shepherd’s pie into an easily digestible baked pizza. Still very tasty, but considerably less satiating.
So what makes the movie so much fun? Great cast and equally great typecasting. As usual, Jason Statham pummels him beautifully stoically as femme fatale Aubrey Plaza unleashes her arsenal of snarky one-liners. It is a pity that her role is limited to this. Josh Hartnett eagerly fills the tongue-in-cheek role of Hollywood’s biggest star, but the highlight is Hugh Grant, who after his first slippery steps in The Knights Now you can fully play the cunning villain. It’s amazing how he reinvents himself in the downfall of his career.
While Ritchie is normally a master at creating interesting characters, this time they’re kept very flat. As a result, his typical goofy lines don’t come off right and the humor feels a bit forced, to the point that Plaza explicitly mentions ‘funny’. The running gag is Fortune’s so-called “medicinal necessities” that he demands for his services, like exorbitantly expensive wine, and this mediocre gag is carried ad infinitum. Clearly a case of quantity over quality. Fortunately, Hugh Grant is a genius at times.
The film’s comedic approach occasionally brings the adrenaline level down, but composer Christopher Benstead’s phenomenal score offers solace. Not out of place in a Bond film, the bombastic soundtrack clearly indicates when the action breaks out again and thus plays an essential role in setting the pace of the film. The fact that music is really necessary for this illustrates the poor fusion of comedy and action elements.
Despite previous criticisms, this is indeed a very good movie. The locations are beautiful, the action is exciting, and the cinematography is tighter than tight. In terms of atmosphere and world building, it’s Guy Ritchie at its best. However, the excessive focus on comedy (which sometimes turns into silliness) proves to be an extremely limiting factor in character development for the characters and any kind of tension. therefore can Operation Fortune: Cunning War absolutely nothing like Ritchie’s previous work.