Which one’s Ruse? (CREDIT: Dan Smith/Lionsgate)

Starring: Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, Cary Elwes, Josh Hartnett, Hugh Grant, Eddie Marsan, Bugzy Malone, Peter Ferdinando

Director: Guy Ritchie

Running Time: 114 Minutes

Rating: R for Spies Being Spies

Release Date: March 3, 2023 (Theaters)

What’s It About?: Would you watch a movie in which the motley crew of Jason Statham, Aubrey Plaza, and Cary Elwes team up together for some espionage? What if we also threw Josh Hartnett into the mix as one of the biggest movie stars in the world? And what if Hugh Grant played the billionaire arms dealer they have in their crosshairs? Well, that might all sound ridiculous, but it’s exactly what Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre has to offer. Will the plot make any sense, or will everyone be too stylish and quippy to even care about something like logic?

What Made an Impression?: I often find espionage movies difficult to parse, and I know I’m not the only one. In a way, that’s the nature of the genre.With all the subterfuge and double-crossings, these stories tend to be opaque by design. And Operation Fortune really takes the cake in that regard, because pretty much immediately I had no idea what was happening. Who are these spies? What country, if any, do they work for? What disaster are they trying to prevent? Does anything even matter?

That confusion isn’t necessarily a problem, especially if you have style and wit to spare, but it’s also nice to have a sense of something resembling a base reality. Instead, the Operation Fortune engine plows forward without letting us know its origin or destination. It’s so ill-defined that I was positively shocked when Guy Ritchie was revealed as the director during the credits. It certainly features some of his trademarks and regular players, but it also feels so out to sea that I could hardly believe that it was actually made by someone so familiar.

Anyway, even though I abandoned all hope of ever understanding what was happening, I at least held out hope that I might be entertained. That happened sporadically, with Plaza providing her trademark bitterly playful edge, which is a new flavor for Ritchie World. And at one point Cary Elwes says something that I’m pretty sure was meant as a subtle reference to The Princess Bride‘s poison cup scene. Other than that, everyone in the cast seemed to be enjoying themselves, while I was left out in the cold crying, “I wish I knew what was going on!”

Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre is Recommended If You Like: Hugh Grant being a total dirtbag

Grade: 2 out of 5 Hard Drives