Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (2023)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 3/12/23
Director: Guy Ritchie
Cast: Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, Hugh Grant, Josh Hartnett, Bugzy Malone

Something nasty has been stolen and shows up on the black market, and the intelligence community wants to know what it is before it can be used for nefarious purposes. But the operation needs to be under the table, so Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) is called in to handle the matter. He's paired with tech wizard Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza), marksman JJ (Bugzy Malone), and Hollywood movie star Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett) as cover. Billionaire arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant) is a huge fan of Danny's work and invites him and Sarah (posing as Danny's girlfriend) to his villa in Turkey for a vacation. Meanwhile, Fortune handles all the dirty work and tries to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Of course, it's all complete nonsense with a plot that's nearly identical to "The 355" (2022), but director Guy Ritchie obviously had fun making the film. It's not nearly as clever and funny as it thinks it is, but it still manages to be entertaining throughout. Truth be told, the only reason I watched it was for the 1966 Ford Mustang that was featured in the trailer, which was delightful. Jason Statham gives a solid performance and I always enjoy watching him fight. However, it's Aubrey Plaza who ends up stealing the show with her mad skills, effortless charm, and sharp wit, although it's a shame she doesn't see more action. It's clear that Ritchie has as much of a hard-on for her as Hugh Grant's character does, and the camera obsesses over her. She also has one of her best lines from the trailer cut, which was disappointing. It seemed like a projection glitch because the cut was so awkward. A smarmy Hugh Grant makes a delightfully unpredictable villain, and his arc was quite enjoyable.

Overall, it's a light and breezy actioner that doesn't demand much from the audience and never puts the heroes in any serious peril. The action is kinetic and fun, and the snappy dialog isn't nearly as obnoxious as it could be. The location footage is gorgeous, and the film looks fantastic throughout. Ritchie throws in some of his stylistic flair from time to time, but it's not overbearing. The soundtrack is also quite good, but it doesn't look like it's been made available for purchase. I enjoyed the film more than I expected to, even if it's a lesser work from everyone involved.