Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (2023) – Review


Cinematic super spies seem to be ten-a-penny these days, but with James Bond currently taking a breather before being recast and Ethan Hunt winding up for his final bout of death defying antics, the field is wide open for someone to fill void. Enter Orson Fortune, the brainchild of the notoriously flashy Guy Ritchie, who has teamed up with his old mucker, Jason Statham, in order to give us a brand new secret agent to save the world while being staggeringly nonchalant.
Ritchie has been here before, of course with 2015’s unfairly ignored The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a groovy spy flick that swaggered so hard you were worried it would throw out its back, but with Operation Fortune, Hollywood’s favorite mockney attempts to out-smug his previous attempt.
He’s certainly amassed the right team, but can the brand new adventures of a brand new hero manage to infiltrate the public’s imagination and plant an explosive device at the box office?


Meet Orson Fortune, a super-agent that knows how to play the system thanks to his budget draining personal habits and who has just been hired by his handler, Nathan, to look into the theft of a mystery device stolen by Ukrainian mobsters. While no one seems to know exactly what this thing is, the fact that it’s on the market for a testicle-shriveling 10 billion means that it’s certainly not to be taken lightly and so Fortune is teamed with quib-happy hacker Sarah Fidel and the all-business JJ Davies to investigate and intercept this thing, dubbed “The Handle”, before a sale can be made.
However, a relatively simple mission is made unnecessarily complicated thanks to the intervention of another spy team lead by Nathan’s professional rival, Mike, who manages to snag the hard drive containing much needed info on the Handle, but not before Sarah copies the contents.
Discovering that the seller of the Handle is legendarily slimy billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds, Orson and Sarah figure out the best chance to snuggle up to this perma-tanned criminal is to take advantage of his weakness for movie stars – primarily Danny Francesco.
Leveraging Francesco into helping them by playing up to Simmonds fan worship, Fortune, Sarah and JJ start to get to the bottom of what exactly the Handle is, who the buyers are and what god-awful results will occur if this sale goes through. However, seemingly around every corner lies the pesky Mike and his operatives who seems to be far more interested in letting Fortune do all the hard work an then taking the Handle from him rather than procuring it himself.
What’s a super spy to do..?


You certainly have to give Guy Ritchie credit, after all trying to launch a new spy onto the big screen that isn’t based on any already existing material is ballsy to say the least. I’m sure he was hoping that he’d have a franchise creating movie on his hands much in the same way Matthew Vaughn did with the Kingsman movies, but, while Operation Fortune is undemanding fun and comes fully loaded with slick banter and snappy spy-work, it doesn’t really stick in the memory much.
Thanks to a good cast, Fortune has charisma to spare with only a slightly miscast Jason Statham acquitting himself nicely as he swaps witticisms and blows with both colleagues and enemies and the fact he uses his skills at adapting to various situations to con H.R. into paying for his exorbitant lifestyle like a gritting Bond is a really neat touch while a highly game Aubrey Plaza effortlessly nails almost all the best lines (and looking endlessly fabulous) as her typically eccentric hacker. Further stacking out the cast is much missed but somewhat underused Josh Hartnett as the bewildered Francesco while Hugh Grant continues his impressive run of broadly played scumbags, voraciously gobbling up any scenes or dialogue that Plazza has carelessly left lying around. Rounding things off is a delightfully icy Cary Elewes as Fortune’s calmly exasperated boss and The Gentlemen’s “rapping and slapping” Bugzy Malone who… well, he’s just there, really.


However, it soon becomes clear that any problems Opertation Fortune has, certainly doesn’t come from the cast because as fun and frothy as it is, the movie is so glib, it acts more like a cinematic rohypnol that’s more forgettably soothing than a relentless action comedy full of twists and laughs. Sure, jokey super spy movies equip their heroes with a ridiculous amount of plot armour (Roger Moore’s Bond wore so much I’m surprised he didn’t give himself a hernia every time he had to haul himself out of a chair), but at no point does it feel that any of these guys are in any amount of danger and the action isn’t sharp enough to counteract it. Also adding to the fire and forget nature of the piece is despite having Hugh Grant – with his skeevy accent from The Gentlemen fully in place – being right there. Keeping Grant’s not-so-secret weapon in a strictly not exactly villainous yet not exactly heroic role, the actual bad guys barely register at all giving the talented group of white hats no one really to play off, thus adding to the lack of any real drama.
The action is perky enough thanks to Statham’s well cemented action credentials, but lacks the dramatic punch of Daniel Craig’s best Bond outings, the subversive nature of a Kingsman or even the comedy chops of Statham’s own Hobbs And Shaw and the countless scenes of our hero casually beating guys unconscious without breaking a sweat begins to get monotonous thanks to the lack of variety with the set pieces.
Still, one thing that counts massively in Guy Ritchie’s favour us that Operation Fortune looks like it was tremendously fun to make which translates through the screen to make the whole experience legitimately enjoyable for at least a single viewing.


Best described as a Mission: Impossible movie after one too many cocktails, the finished product is as energetic and funky as it is empty and trite and Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre may have faired far better by making its actor-as-reluctant-spy sub-plot more central to proceedings than having it being merely a comedy diversion. But as it stands, you might as well enjoy Orson Fortune’s debut for the breezy, disposable giggle it truly is – because I seriously doubt we’ll get another.


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