Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre (2023) Review
GUY Ritchie accentuates his undying love for Jason Statham, reenlisting the English actor for the fifth time to star in his latest espionage blockbuster. Hot off the heels of 2019's The Gentlemen and 2021's Wrath of Man, Ritchie once again proves why he is one of Hollywood's most passionate and charismatic filmmakers by delivering a fetching, though ultimately flawed, popcorn movie.
As news of a world-altering doomsday weapon threatens the balance of war, special agent Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) recruits operatives Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza) and JJ Davies (Bugzy Malone), as well as Hollywood megastar Danny Francesso (Josh Hartnett), in order to put a stop to the sale of the nuclear weapon which has been linked to multi-millionaire Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant).
Simplicity is the key to success; a trait Guy Ritchie has mastered over the years by knowing what audiences expect from an espionage action movie and delivering on their perceived expectations. While many will complain about the screenplay's lack of surprises and depth, but not every story needs an unexpected twist to keep audiences on their toes, especially when the twist more often than not ends in disappointment. Operation Fortune keeps things simple, but doesn't treat its audience like children and flat out tell them what's going to happen, inserting a plethora of innuendos and hilarious quips to further progress the tale of a movie star and his espionage associates.
Ritchie uses his trademark writing style to produce another group of well-written characters made all the better by the stellar cast chosen. The great thing about Guy Ritchie casts is that he chooses sure-fire talent over name recognition, and while a famous name would've unquestionably brought in more box office bucks, it could've have potentially damaged the quality of certain scenes; a consequence Ritchie looked to and succeeded in avoiding. Statham and Grant are highlights in Operation Fortune, capitalising on their history with the director to add improv dialogue to the mix which, rightfully, feels natural and off the cuff. Hartnett and Malone deliver coming-out performances, with the young actors being given time to shine and show off their eccentric and dead-pan humour respectively. But in the end, the best actor in the movie was, surprisingly, Aubrey Plaza. Despite being a fan of the comedian, I assumed her insertion into the film was to drum up ticket sales, but I can't deny the obvious: she was phenomenal. Equal parts classy and equal parts sassy, Plaza had great chemistry with nearly everybody, particularly Statham for who he played off of extremely well, never feeling like a thrown together pairing and turning seemingly stone-cold scenes into gut-bursting exchanges. A prime example of this was shown during promotional material where Statham invades a house and is caught, all the while Plaza berates him for screwing up a simple task. Such a simple concept shouldn't be as funny as it was, but Ritchie enhances the comedy with his great direction.
Ruse de guerre may translate to "Ruse of War", but Guy Ritchie isn't deceiving anyone in his most recent endeavour. If you're a fan of the director's backlog, Operation Fortune won't disappoint thanks to its cast of likeable characters, endless wisecrack, and a story that doesn't pretend to be overcomplicated. Some may disregard Ritchie's most recent due to its inability to "push the envelope", but Ruse de guerre will still keep you entertained during its most dull moments.