‘Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre’: ‘Mission: Impossible’ lite


(2 stars)

A cynical thought popped into my head as the closing credits began to roll for “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre,” a garden-variety comedy caper featuring an elite team of supersecret agents with a unique set of skills, all of which are applied to stopping a mysterious weapon from falling into the wrong hands: This feels designed — focus-grouped, even — to become a franchise.

There’s the paper-pushing spy-agency liaison known only by his last name, Knighton (Eddie Marsan); the debonair-as-Devonshire-cream team leader Nathan Jasmine (Cary Elwes); the deadly/dashing field agent Orson Fortune (Jason Statham); and his two trusty operatives — sex and smarts combined in the package of computer whiz Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza) and the muscle of weapons expert JJ Davies (rapper-actor Bugzy Malone).

My second thought? “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One” doesn’t open until July.

Ah, well. For now, this will have to do.

Statham’s Fortune is a poor man’s Ethan Hunt, a cucumber-cool undercover agent whose idea of using his noggin is to head-butt someone, or maybe throw him off a tower. As for Plaza, a welcome if unorthodox casting choice, I stopped believing in her character as soon as she sat down in front of an encrypted laptop, went clickety clack with a few keystrokes and uttered the words, “ … aaaand I’m in!” Malone, for his part, comes in handy whenever someone needs to be shot before the story can move on to the next scene.

But dear God, this thing is more derivative than a credit default swap.

The bare bones of the story — directed by Guy Ritchie, who co-wrote the screenplay with frequent collaborators Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies — might sound familiar: A terrible new weapon, terrifyingly code-named the Handle, has been stolen in Odessa by unknown parties and is en route, via arms dealer Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant, hiding under greasy hair, BluBlockers, a perma-tan and a cockney accent) to a nameless buyer or buyers. To infiltrate Simmonds’s inner sanctum, Fortune pretends to be the business manager of the billionaire gun runner’s favorite movie star, Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett), whose cooperation has been leveraged by blackmail.

Cue more clickety clacking of keyboards, some high-tech voice cloning, a bit of boom-and-bang here, some head-butting there — along with a car chase featuring a bulletproof, candy-apple-red Mustang and a plot that jet-sets from London to Morocco to Madrid to Burbank and to Cannes before settling down for the climax in Antalya, Turkey — and you have a recipe for, well, a movie we’ve all seen before.

Look: Jason Statham can be a kick to watch. Who doesn’t like Aubrey Plaza? And Hugh Grant seems to be having more fun than any 62-year-old man reasonably should. Spring may be around the corner, but it still feels like winter in my heart. Is “Operation Fortune” a cure for the blues? No. It’s an appetizer for better things to come, an amuse-bouche at best — at worst, a placeholder meal of cinematic comfort food, tiding us all over until it’s summer blockbuster season again.

R. At area theaters. Contains strong language and violence. 114 minutes.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *