Operation: Endgame a.k.a. Rogues Gallery, 2010.
Directed by Fouad Mikati.
Starring Joe Anderson, Rob Corddry, Ellen Barkin, Odette Yustman, Maggie Q, Zach Galifianakis, Adam Scott, Brandon T. Jackson, Emilie de Ravin, Bob Odenkirk, Ving Rhames and Jeffrey Tambor.
In a secret underground facility a rogue agent kills the boss of an elite government spy agency, leading two competing teams of assassins to form a fragile alliance in order to escape the lockdown.
Sometimes a film can’t quite decide what kind of film it wants to be. Inevitably when this happens, said film is a mess. Caught between genres, missing points, lacking a clear and concise vision, and directionless. Operation: Endgame is just such a film, and a film that inspires no real response of any kind from the viewer. It’s not terrible enough to inspire vitriol, bad enough to raise an ironic chuckle, nor nearly good enough to even aspire to minimal satisfaction. It’s a film that leaves the viewer cold.
When the head of two rival spy teams is assassinated in their underground base of operations, the two teams must band together to find an escape, with the base set to self destruct. Of course not everyone is who they appear to be, while the fragile bond between teams Alpha and Omega soon breaks, and the rivalries begin to show themselves. Aspiring to be “like” a number of films, Endgame ends up as nothing more than a hodge-podge piecing together of bad imitations of the likes of Tarantino, the Bourne films, Apatow brand comedy banter, and a visual style that’s MTV and also 10 years out of date.
The casting in Endgame looks good on paper. Lead Joe Anderson is dull and uninteresting. Part writing, part performance. The supporting cast though under normal circumstances should have impressed. Rob Corddry, Zach Galifianakis, Adam Scott, Ving Rhames, Maggie Q, Brandon T. Jackson and Ellen Barkin, plus a further host of recognisable faces, mostly from the modern comedy film circuit. So this film is a comedy right? Kind of. Again, this is where the hodge podge comes into question. The film can’t decide between being cookie indie film, zipping dialogue comedy, balls out action film, or bourne-esque spy film. Every element falls short, and the cast as such, because of the horrible script and lack of direction, are completely wasted. With guys like Corddry it should be funny, but every attempt at incidental humour, and witty dialogue falls desperately flat. Corddry tries in desperation to wring out laughs (with a bad version of Tom Cruise‘s Tropic Thunder rantings), but fails. He’s given little to work with, and his character has a darker edge than his normal schtick. The “comedy” resorts to little more than saying “fuck” quite a lot, in the vein hope that, the immature part of every audience member’s brain, still finds it funny. However, the lack of genuine creativity, and sheer derivative nature of the comedy, makes this painfully unfunny at times. A few gags find their mark, but not being an all out comedy, the film is not scattershot enough in its approach, and it’s success rate is not nearly high enough. For everyone else, it’s the same as for Corddry, they just can’t elevate this, and have nothing to work with. Either that, or in the case of Ving Rhames and Jeffrey Tambor for example, they phone in a generic Rhames and Tambor performance respectively.
The action is also poor. Again, the visual style is ridiculously out of date. The film also looks extremely cheap. The supposed underground spy base is supposed to be something akin to a Bond villains fortress. Instead, it just looks like an office at the weekend, mixed with a warehouse after closing. As such there’s little scope for decent set pieces. This is not helped by the shaking camera and hyperactive cutting, that’s both a poor stylistic choice, and a poor attempt at masking unimaginative choreography and uninspired stunt work. Director Fouad Mikati’s style would seem to put him into the category of “hip” director, but he’s poor here. No vision, no coherence, and in terms of inspiring his actors, he gets nothing of any note from anyone.
Given the films cast, you have to assume that it was intended for the big screen. A film with such a cast could easily have been marketable on the big screen, had it played to the strengths of the cast, and had an idea with at least some clarity. However it’s straight to video tag suggest something of a mishap. A blotch on the CV of most involved. That would very much appear to be the case here. The lack of a solid spine of a clear and concise plot is the films biggest drawback. There’s no point, no sense and no reason for anything. Ultimately, this will be quickly forgotten, whilst those viewing the film on the back of its casting will be sadly disappointed. There is very little to recommend here. Much like casting Woody Allen as Mike Tyson, this does not play to its strengths. Branching out is all well and good, but when that fails so spectacularly, the desire for seeing the tried and tested formula, the pair of old trainers, is all the stronger.
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