British director Guy Ritchie is world-renowned for his stylistic approach to comedy and action, perfectly blending the two with quirky characters and riveting moment-to-moment sequences that are usually the highlights of his body of work.
Whether you know him for his iconic Sherlock Holmes duology or for his early rise to fame with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Ritchie’s filmography has been exceptionally fun and usually features a pretty stacked cast list.
His latest film, Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre, is no different, with his film seeing the return of longtime collaborator Jason Statham, as well as silver screen mainstays like Hugh Grant, Cary Elwes, and Aubrey Plaza.
So how does this globe-trotting spy adventure hold up against Ritchie’s other films? Let’s take a closer look at what could be a hidden gem in 2023’s year of film releases.
Ruse of War
Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre centres around a stolen piece of tech known as The Handle, with numerous factions seeking to claim it. The British Government hires Nathan, played by The Princess Bride’s Cary Elwes, to gather a team to retrieve The Handle.
This is where Statham comes in as the superspy Orson Fortune, along with intelligence specialist Sarah Fidel played by Aubrey Plaza and jack-of-all-trades JJ, played by Bugzy Malone.
The team’s main mark is the billionaire arms broker Greg Simmonds, played phenomenally by Hugh Grant. Though the only way to get Simmonds’ attention is to bring in the international movie star, Danny Francesco, played by Josh Hartnett, and get chummy with the arms dealer.
It is Ritchie’s usual penchant for shady underbellies of the world and crime organisations, only this time the action takes viewers across the globe. Fortune and his team’s mission is straightforward enough, though a rival spy team puts a wrench in their plans.
The whole conceit of the titular “ruse de guerre” tactic Fortune and his team employ is fun to watch unfold. Translated as “ruse of war” from French, what the team essentially does is pull a My Fair Lady, only with an actor pretending to be friends with a wanted criminal instead.
From the get-go, it might seem like things will be predictable in how things play out, but Ritchie as always, manages to subvert expectations right in the middle of it all. All the while, the cast has great chemistry when it comes to their ongoing banter.
Statham in particular returns to his roots, being the brash British thug we’ve seen him in previous Ritchie films like Snatch. It’s great to see him elevate beyond the usual gruff action hero that he has been typecasted in and add some comedic levity to his roles.
Guy Ritchie's films typically have a distinctly British oeuvre, with The Gentlemen being a great example of Ritchie’s signature style. Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre keeps the British humour and soul at about fifty per cent, which is just enough for such a movie with so many moving parts.
Aside from Statham, the other members of the crew shine through as well. Elwes brings his suave charm as the coordinator of the crew, Plaza is just as dry and witty as ever, and Hartnett plays the part of a hapless fool perfectly.
The highlight is Hugh Grant for sure, with his recent roles like in this film, The Gentlemen, and Rian Johnson’s Glass Onion really showing Grant's penchant for playing offbeat characters. It is great to see him shake off his rom-com persona in his later years.
As for the film as a whole, Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre may resonate with fans of Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. It may not be as funny or small-scaled as Snatch or The Gentlemen, but it is still a recommended watch.
With a title like Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre, it seems to hint that this movie is intended to be a franchise of sorts. If this does come to fruition, we can’t wait to see Ritchie and the crew elevate this spy universe into something more.