Jason Statham takes on Hugh Grant in Guy Ritchie’s teenage spy game

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre ★★½
(M) 114 minutes

All through Guy Ritchie’s awkwardly titled spy caper Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, I figured I was looking at the second or third entry in a franchise that had passed me by, no doubt based on a best-selling graphic novel series. When I googled it I was surprised to learn that this is technically a Ritchie original unrelated to any previous piece of IP.

That doesn’t mean there are many surprises in store. On the contrary, much of the humor intended seems to lie in how unabashedly Ritchie and his team keep serving up the same old nonsense.

Spy Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) and his American associate Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza, right) recruit an acclaimed movie star (Josh Hartnett) in Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre.

Spy Orson Fortune (Jason Statham) and his American associate Sarah Fidel (Aubrey Plaza, right) recruit an acclaimed movie star (Josh Hartnett) in Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre.Credit:Daniel Smith/STXfilms

Jason Statham is his usual dark self as world-travelling super-spy Orson Fortune, licensed to slaughter hordes of henchmen, attend A-list parties, and generally do whatever it takes to keep the free world safe.

Of course, the job has its perks, but Fortune isn’t the type to admit that he’s enjoying himself, even while relaxing in his spacious private jet with a bottle of red wine worth someone’s yearly salary. We’re told early on that he needs that kind of pampering to calm his claustrophobia and other neuroses: that’s presumably one of his ruses, but the joke is muted and soon on the line.

No one would blame Statham for Reach, but whether you see that as a shortcoming or an opportunity for filmmakers like Ritchie to parody the British rigid-lipped convention is a matter of taste. In the same vein, Cary Elwes (who, at 60, oddly resembles Matt Smith in his unconvincing age make-up) and Eddie Marsan act as Fortune overseers.

Hugh Grant as the sympathetically evil Cockney arms dealer Greg Simmonds.

Hugh Grant as the sympathetically evil Cockney arms dealer Greg Simmonds.Credit:Daniel Smith/STXfilms

Relatively speaking, youth is represented by rapper Bugzy Malone as Fortune’s sidekick JJ, who helps out with shows in exchange for the occasional tutoring on the finer things in life. If he had been apprenticed to James Bond this might have included some tips on the art of seduction; Unfortunately for him, sex was never part of the Guy Ritchie deal.

Aside from that, Aubrey Plaza comes as close to infiltrating the Ritchie boys’ club as any woman has to as Fortune’s newly assigned American associate, Sarah Fidel. Fidel is a multi-talented talent who is as adept at sneaking around in sexy outfits as she is at hacking computers and discussing modern art.

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/movies/jason-statham-v-hugh-grant-this-juvenile-spy-caper-is-all-bluff-and-bluster-20230111-p5cbtt.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Jason Statham takes on Hugh Grant in Guy Ritchie’s teenage spy game

Jaclyn Diaz

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