It’s been 23 years since director Guy Ritchie and Jason Statham kicked off their working relationship with “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” (1998), which co-starred the latter. Statham gradually evolved into the mold of yesteryear’s action antiheroes, relying on quick fists, feet, a precise trigger finger, and wisecracks to tussle his way through snappy projects, a few directed by Ritchie. After “Lock, Stock” came “Snatch” (2000), “Revolver” (2005), and, earlier this year, the pair reunited for the stylish revenge-thriller “Wrath of Man” (2021), which was a modest success. The partnership continues to bear fruit with a fifth collaboration on the way titled “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre,” an action comedy from STXfilms.
“Operation Fortune” stars steely Statham as Orson Fortune (Ritchie always had a flair for giddy character names), a super spy with a singular set of skills who is tasked with tracking down a stolen piece of technology (“something rather nasty,” according to the trailer). He’s trying to prevent it from getting on the open market and possibly into the wrong hands, specifically those of a billionaire armsdealer named Greg Simmonds (Hugh Grant). He might be a super spy named Fortune, but this certainly isn’t a one-man job. Despite an initial reluctance, Fortune assembles a crackerjack team of only the world’s best operatives, of course, played by Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, and Bugzy Malone. Key to their covert, globe-trotting operation is movie star Danny Franscesco (Josh Hartnett), who is recruited as bait to lure his biggest fan, Simmonds.
As the trailer suggests, mayhem may be the only item on the menu, with Statham manifesting his usually cool yet rascally persona, once again in the driver’s seat of Ritchie’s luxury sportscar. His co-stars Grant and Hartnett are also repeat Ritchie collaborators, having appeared in “The Gentlemen” (2019) and “Wrath of Man,” respectively.
And as the most intriguing new addition to the Ritchie troupe, Plaza, who cut her teeth primarily in television comedy, and has since broadened her repertoire, jumps into unadulterated big screen action moviemaking for the first time, lending her trademark deadpan humor.
Expect the usual Ritchie flourishes, including twisty plotlines and high-stakes gamesmanship (the “ruse de guerre” in the title) all captured with his kinetic visual style.
The director, who’s successfully graduated from economy class gangster mischief to studio tentpoles, co-wrote the script for “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre” with Ivan Atkinson and Marn Davies.
It’s scheduled to be released in the U.S. on January 21, 2022, by STXfilms.