Even as the hunt to replace Daniel Craig as the new James Bond continues, Guy Ritchie has rolled out a rough-and-ready espionage thriller. Operation Fortune has a mocking subtitle “Ruse De Guerre” (Ruse of War) that sends up its continent-hopping, 007-style plot.
The inimitable Jason Statham, whom Ritchie introduced to the movies in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels in 1998, plays Orson Fortune, a name second in its slinkiness only to Daniel Ocean. Orson is a private contractor hired by British government official Nathan (Cary Elwes) to retrieve a highly valuable case. The trail leads to arms dealer Greg (Hugh Grant) via Ukranian, Turk and American shady types.
Orson’s taskforce includes hacker Sarah (Aubrey Plaza) and sniper JJ (Bugzy Malone). Even as a rival contractor – and Orson’s bugbear – Mike (Peter Fernandino) joins the chase for the case, Orson recruits American actor Danny (Josh Hartnett) into bamboozling the star-struck Greg.
The 114-minute film has been premiered on Lionsgate Play. A fabulous cast, a patter-heavy screenplay by Ritchie, Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies, and fleet action enliven a wafer-thin story that rehashes much of everything we know about this kind of movie.
Hugh Grant is a hoot as the foppish, omnisexual Greg who, despite being described as “the dark angel of merciless death”, is quite the darling. Grant’s faux Cockney accent, flirtatious ways and dandy threads threaten to overshadow the game showboating by Josh Hartnett, who is hilarious as the put-upon Hollywood pin-up, and Aubrey Plaza, as the expert who can overcome just about any computer system in the world. Jason Statham has done this kind of thing before, but he rinses and repeats with such effortless panache that he can be forgiven.