By Daniel R. Durrett
The Spy/ Heist~ Thriller, that is not actually a Heist or Spy, story is a domain known all too well by Director Guy Ritchie. Ritchie’s sense of humor may be his greatest gift to his films and Operation Fortune: Russe De Guerre may be his most accomplished to date.
This story begins post heist when operatives have been enlisted by Nathan Jasmine of the British government depicted by Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride, Saw) to steal it back. This thrilling tale has all the makings of Ritchie’s 60s retelling of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” or any classic Bond story.
Nathan puts together the team and as expected in a heist or spy tale it has the typical players, the head, the brains, a team leader, the hacker and tech expert, and the hitter or muscle. The team leader, as if they played little league football together, will be played by no one other than Jason Statham (Crank, Hobbs & Shaw) who portrays Orson Fortune. The hacker, Sarah Fidel, is brought to life by Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation, Emily the Criminal) in a way only she could with attitude and an in-your-face beauty that’s ready to kick Harvey Weinstein in the balls.
If it has yet to be declared by another writer, Plaza is a straight up “A Lister”! She shines so brightly in this story that may have been tailored for her. Her portrayal of Sarah was the juice within the team Statham whose typical deadpan humor with a snarky flair paired well with Plaza’s unique and off beat deliveries matched so perfectly it helped move the plot at a tremendous pace.
Among these cast of cohorts is the much-needed straight man for this off beat comedy mix, and what better than J.J. Davies the team’s hitter and muscle portrayed by Bugzy Malone (The Gentleman, musical artist). This is Malone’s second effort with Ritchie at the helm, he made his film debut in The Gentleman.
The biggest surprise was the movie star, Danny Francesco, portrayed by Josh Harnett in a choice bit of casting. Who is the team ‘in”, as referring to, infiltration point, to gain access to the target. Their target being the arms dealer, Greg Simmonds, played by Hugh Grant (About a Boy, Notting Hill) who is bartering a stolen item of British tech, that must be retrieved at all costs. Grant’s character is a giant fan of the movie star, so Danny is the team’s way to seek out the stolen weapon.
While a loveable but deranged Greg fawns over Danny the team fights off competitors who look to recover the weapon for their own glory.
The story comes with the usual Ritchie twist and turns that make his tales unique and fun to watch. Operation Fortune is no exception to this standard. Except that Ritchie’s tales come at the highest standard of the resume of films he has produced. I have extreme love for his film “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” but this film runs a very close second to me and I would have to suggest to any fan of Ritchie or the genre.
Though Statham may adequately two his standard character within the Ritchie realm, Plaza’s and Grant’s performances are an experience like the many oddballs and loveable but weird characters that have graced previous Ritchie efforts. Grant’s Greg is as memorable as Brad Pitt’s pikey from Snatch, and should be loved in the same way.
Just as in the past Ritchie delivers a righteous romp within a twisted tale of intrigue with a side of humor.