Guy Ritchie’s new film, Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, is the latest in spunky spy movies. It pulls from classic series like James Bond and Mission Impossible. It hits the right tropes and fills all the character archetypes. It has a cast full of big names like Cary Elwes, Hugh Grant, Aubrey Plaza, and Josh Hartnett.
So why haven’t more people heard about it?
Operation Fortune has had a remarkably light marketing run. Footage has been floating around since 2022, but in the final run, trailers only started appearing on YouTube in mid-February. That’s a whopping two weeks before the film’s release. It’s possible the film simply didn’t need it; personally, I bought my tickets within a few hours of seeing the trailer. However, it could also say something about how the studio expects the movie to perform. Does Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre have enough going for it to leave its mark?
A Light Heist
Operation Fortune is a movie that delivers exactly what it presents on the surface: a fun heist plot. It’s not exceptionally deep or emotional, but it doesn’t pretend to be. One of the best things about this film is its skillful pace. Like a good skipping stone, it carries you through all the essentials for the story without getting bogged down by unnecessary details like tragic backstories.
In Operation Fortune, most characters are the same from start to finish. The only one who has any kind of “arc” is Josh Hartnett’s character, Danny Fortuna. He’s a big-time movie star who is unwillingly pulled into the action, holding up appearances while the real agents investigate an arms dealer. (Incidentally, that’s also the plot of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, which might be why I like it so much.) Outside of that, the only thing that changes and develops is the plot.
It’s rare that you’ll hear me applaud a movie for having no character development, but Operation Fortune is a film that has its priorities straight. Rather than cramming in some half-baked backstories to check a box, it focuses on the execution of its action and humor. That’s where Guy Ritchie shines through. He’s consistently one a few directors I can identify without a glance at the credits, especially during fight scenes.
What’s more, Operation Fortune manages to do character tropes without feeling trope-y…somehow. Yes, there’s one female agent who inevitably needs to don a fancy dress and distract the guards, but there’s not one kiss in the whole movie. Yes, the sharpshooter is the quiet, reserved member of the team, but his persona is light and versatile instead of dark and stormy. The characters are just like every other heist film, but have an energy that makes them feel unique anyway.
An Open End
The ending of Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is just as textbook as you’d expect. The team learns how to work together as a unit and bond with each other. They succeed in retrieving the stolen goods and prevent a worldwide catastrophe. Their handler offers them another job and they all walk into the sunset. Roll credits.
It’s custom to leave films open ended these days, just in case. “Sequel” is the buzzword in Hollywood these days. But just because a film leaves an open door doesn’t guarantee a follow up. It’s possible that Operation Fortune will end up in a pile with other discarded franchise ideas like American Assassin (2017) or 6 Underground (2019). Ritchie had his own misfire in 2015 with The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), a film adaptation of the 60s’ television series—another movie about three spies that features Hugh Grant, funny enough.
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre works well as a standalone film, but it would also serve as a great setup. (A pilot movie, if you will.) The movie’s lean character development leaves ample room for growth without jerking the story in a new direction. Being set in the present, there’s plenty of opportunities for fancy gadgets and weapons, pushing the believability a bit beyond what would be considered realistic. And, of course, there’s no shortage of things to be stolen or stolen back. No matter how you dress it up, there’s always public demand for heist and spy movies.
As I leave the movie theater, I often think to myself, “I hope they don’t try to shoehorn this into a major franchise.” There are just as many failed sequels as there are failed pilots, if not more. Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is one of the few times I left thinking, “Yeah, I would come back for a second one.”
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is now playing in theaters.