Knowing what Guy Ritchie can offer, and the shape it often takes, is crucial to engaging Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre. Just a short while after the release of The Gentlemen and Ritchie appears to enjoy the gluttony of bigger budgets and sleek shots. Every so often a feature releases that sounds more like a fever dream or end-of-credits movie characters in a comedy flick head off to see. Red Notice was a genuine release, as is Operation Fortune. In the post-Kingmsan era, flashy directors that were lining the southern streets of London with grim crime and dejected horrors are now finding new life in flashy, well-tailored showcases. Horrors of war behind them, newly developed hardmen that are groomed and ready for a Tommy Shelby-loving Facebook account are on the rise here.
Ritchie takes a sharp and surprising turn with this feature though. His introduction is brutal, his storming Cary Elwes reliance well-placed, Eddie Marsan’s firm hand as a focus of acting quality firmed up, and it all comes together quite nicely. What could have been a dribbling experience of spy-on-spy action comes through as a cutthroat demonstration of what Ritchie will now do for the rest of his career. Brushing shoulders with big names, and putting Jason Statham into quality leading roles that benefit both action and comedy, the post-Spy shakeup the genre is now experiencing has brought flashy colours and designer clothes to everywhere beyond the Bond franchise. It is refreshing yet familiar. The perfect storm. Orson Fortune (Statham) is described as just that.
Speaking of Bond, Operation Fortune feels like a 1980s Bond plot without the updates needed to keep it one step ahead of the future. Artificial intelligence, terrorist groups and saviour stories with Aubrey Plaza and Hugh Grant in fine form. These are the pieces that come together so well and under the glitzy lushness which Ritchie continually criticises at a breakneck pace, Operation Fortune takes up a role as a counterculture to flashy proceedings. Yet at the same time, it is those same flashy proceedings. It runs through like a tongue-in-cheek Payday 2 heist and to Ritchie and the cast’s credit, they sell it well. It still feels like a fading pastiche and that will never change, but at least there is fun to be had while it lasts. Operation Fortune tries its best and comes up short in the important moments.
Still, those important moments are few and far between. Most of the momentum carrying through Operation Fortune is based on that ever-present Jason Statham show. Good pairings make for great experiences, and thankfully the charming little numbers The Gentlemen had been maintained. Although the issue there is The Gentlemen still feels relatively fresh in the mind, despite it being four years before this. Flashy and taking the modern forms of the spy genre nice enough, it would appear that, as fun as Operation Fortune is, it is an excuse for Elwes to drink nice beers and wines in various parts of the world. What a hero. Cliché, catchy and decent fun, Ritchie considers his crime movie roots and builds them up just that little bit further.