Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre

Unconvincing ruse of a comeback

Special agent Orson Fortune and his stereotypical team of operatives recruit a major Hollywood star to help them foil the dastardly plans of a star-struck, ruthless arms dealer.

Guy Richie exploded onto the movie scene in 1998 with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and followed it up with Snatch. These two screwball crime capers centered on underworld ineptitude and featured colorful characters, hilarious situations and incomprehensible accents. Everyone loved them, including me.

Then he married Madonna, who in 2002 made him feature her talentless self in a remake of Lina Wertmuller’s 1974 Swept Away, an unwatchable five-Razzie flop that’s widely considered to be one of the worst films ever made.

He lost his mojo, and has since been reduced to a journeyman director, responsible for such disasters as Aladdin, Revolver and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

Now he’s apparently trying to get back to his roots with this convoluted, violent and (mostly) unfunny mess that’s as awkward as its title. All the ingredients are here. Jason Statham (of course), picturesque international locations, mega-yachts, bravado, betrayal, action set-pieces, sexiness, and a star-studded cast (Josh Hartnett, Eddie Marsan, Cary Elwes, Bugzy Malone). But it never gels into anything as entertaining as you would hope.

It’s not a total disaster. Bright spots include Aubrey Plaza, who steals the show with her deadpan delivery and comic timing, and Hugh Grant, having fun in the post-cute phase of his career as the sleazeball villain. And in the right mood it can be seen as daft, instantly forgettable fun. But Lock, Stock it’s not. (114 min)

Out in theatres now.