Review:  ‘Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre’ is classic Guy Ritchie and not in a good way

Aubrey Plaza, from left, Jason Statham and Bugzy Malone in the movie "Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre."
(Daniel Smith/Lionsgate)

Guy Ritchie’s just having a lark. If his last film, “Wrath of Man,” was an enjoyably meaty “Heat” riff, his latest, the overly titled “Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre” is a globe-trotting “Mission: Impossible” facsimile, a convoluted spycraft romp featuring the latest iteration of the Ritchie repertory players.

That includes, of course, Jason Statham, who has been Ritchie ride-or-die since “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” as well as Josh Hartnett, who co-starred in “Wrath of Man,” and Hugh Grant, who showed up in “The Gentlemen,” alongside English rapper Bugzy Malone, who is back in a bigger role that he can’t quite manage. Cary Elwes makes his Ritchie debut, as well as Aubrey Plaza, who manages to hold the whole thing together with her trademark deadpan delivery. At times, it seems the whole film is just a ruse, if you will, to get Plaza as the “girl in the earpiece,” feeding critical info and sardonic one-liners to Statham as he cosplays as Ethan Hunt, making this an odd couple workplace comedy of sorts.

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“Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre” (or “OF: RDG”) clocks in at nearly two hours, but feels cut to ribbons. It doesn’t even have an opening sequence, wherein the bad guys steal the thingamajig that will trigger the crack team to go after them. Instead, that’s relegated to a nearly nonsensical silent montage that plays out over Elwes’ Nathan Jasmine meeting with Eddie Marsan’s Knighton to assemble a crew of specialists led by quirky oenophile Orson Fortune (Statham) who will be deployed to get the thingamajig back. Hilariously, these two don’t even know what’s been stolen — wait, is this movie a parody?


It’s not funny enough to pull off parody, but there’s a reason why “OF: RDG” has been sliced and diced within an inch of its life. Shot in 2021, the film apparently featured a crew of Ukrainian gangsters as the henchmen of Hugh Grant’s billionaire arms dealer antagonist, Greg Simmonds (who is brokering the thingamajig deal). It was abruptly pulled from the release schedule in 2022, one week before Russia invaded Ukraine, and the version that has finally landed in the United States via Lionsgate after original distributor STX “restructured,” has been carefully excised of every reference to anything Ukrainian, and indeed, most of the baddies themselves, which is ostensibly why this movie is missing its inciting incident.

Hence over-relying on Plaza intoning jargon into Statham’s ear, and way too much of Grant doing his best Michael Caine. Hartnett plays a ditzy Hollywood actor named Danny Francesco whom they’re using as bait to get close to Simmonds (he’s a huge fan) so that they can find out what the thingamajig is and whom he’s selling it to and for what. They call the thingamajig “The Handle,” and I swear Guy Ritchie is trolling me at this point.

Maybe he is. The whole endeavor feels like such a silly exercise in pastiche that it’s impossible to take it seriously. Perhaps it’s fine to just be entertained, but there are absolutely zero stakes and therefore, no investment. It’s not quite a comedy — though there are some funny moments, like when the stylish red font that previously announced locations such as London, Moroccoand Madrid, fades up on “BURBANK.”

“OF: RDG” is classic recent Ritchie: star-studded, snarky, and ultimately grating, lousy with weird glasses and bad accents. This thing is so slight, a Xerox of a Xerox of a Xerox of a “Mission: Impossible” that it’s barely a movie. Shot like a commercial — brightly lit, colorful, shallowly staged, and snappily edited — you half expect Cary Elwes to turn to camera and start talking about credit card rewards. As to the plot, it is wildly complicated and yet very basic special ops spy stuff. It’s all dangerous deals and double crosses, yet it whiffs on an opportunity for an actually interesting double cross that might have made us sit up and pay attention.

Guy Ritchie might be having a lark, but that doesn’t mean the audience will be. Don’t waste any time longer than reading the title on this one.

‘Operation Fortune: Ruse de guerre'

Running time: 1 hour 54 minutes

Rated: R, for language and violence

Playing: In general release