A sense of predictability hangs over Operation Fortune, and for a picture that relies on suspense, that’s definitely not a good thing. But for those who love Guy Ritchie’s early work (Snatch, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), the film offers brisk entertainment with all the elements of his breakout features. There’s a case of weapons, a host of characters, and a murder’s row of gangs, all amid the London underworld. Plus, Hugh Grant as a villain!
Grant brings uniqueness to this generic thriller, playing Greg Simmonds, a bad guy who mixes the accent of Michael Caine with the look of Al Pacino. The only thing stopping him from world domination is agent Fortune (Jason Statham), who’s been yanked from vacation to keep him from getting his hands on a nuclear weapon.
Along with agents Sarah (Aubrey Plaza) and Davies (Bugzy Malone), Fortune sets out on his mission, which turns out to be more mangled than the film’s full title (Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre). There are a number of groups who want this weapon, including a group of Ukrainians who were edited out of the action after Russia invaded, and a group of Turks who were poached from Fortune’s crew. Everyone throws shade as they hop from one location to the next, all while Fortune drinks bottles of wine, gets upset, and starts fights, and operatives like Nathan Jasmine (Carey Elwes) and movie star Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett), who’s blackmailed into helping the crew, trade insults over gunfire.
Plaza stands out as the droll Sarah. “Unfazed” doesn’t even begin to describe her ability to stay cool, calm, and collected in the face of danger, even as the rest of the spies get in each other’s way and talk smack to each other non-stop. She’d be a perfect fit for the next Bond. She’s cornered the market on performances that are stoic and sassy, and that’s all Ritchie asks of her here, as he surrounds her with a variety of obstacles and allows her to play off everything from massive set-pieces to small corners of London. She even manages to show glimpses of emotion and a more human side as mayhem whirls around her.
Performances like these add a layer of depth to Ritchie’s action flick, executed with a familiar, muscular panache. The plot is a grab-bag of cliches we’ve seen a million times before, so to dive any deeper into the story would be a waste of time. Suffice to say, there are a number of heists, chases and shootouts, and characters who disappear once the dust settles on their initiative. At times, Operation Fortune seems cobbled together from other movies, but even then, there’s enough here to make the whole operation go off without a hitch.