Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Operation: Endgame/Rogues Gallery

This is a first for the blahblahblahgay movie review blog, a review of a movie I have only just watched and haven't been wowed by.

Another first for the blog, a review of a movie that has had it's name changed. I got the film when it was called Operation: Endgame and it turns out that it has since been renamed Rogues Gallery apparently. Both names are a bit meh, Operation: Endgame wins out in my opinion as it does have some slight reference to the actual movie whereas Rogues Gallery puts it firmly in the sub Smokin' Aces genre of movies about people who kill each other. And essentially that is how this movie is pitched, although I get the impression it really would rather be an office based situational comedy.

As a side note the script for this movie under the name The Rogues Gallery was apparently winning awards back in 2004 but was only produced this year. Perhaps the DVD success of Smokin' Aces helped get it made? I'd say this was definitely worth seeing but perhaps isn't as good simply because it doesn't allow for any one star to shine in the same way Smokin' Aces did.

A misleading poster to be honest, look at how big Zach Galifianakis and his beard is, how centrally he has been placed, you'd expect him to be onscreen for more than the 5 minutes he is if you viewed Operation: Endgame based solely on this poster.

I particularly like the optimistic title on that Youtube trailer. Whilst you may have heard of these actors they are most definitely not stars. What it does have however is a large collection of excellent character actors that bring a whole heap of charisma and talent to the screen. This is most definitely an ensemble piece with no one character given a significant amount of screen time and for me it loses something because of that.

You may remember me mentioning the excitement I felt about watching this film in the review for The Vicious Kind primarily because it features the excellent Adam Scott and the always entertaining Zach Galifianakis (He has a great name, starts with a Gal and ends with a Kiss - Check out Zach doing stand up Live At The Purple Onion) but neither of them are really given a chance to shine in their bit parts. Big letdown for me to be honest.

So a quick synopsis for you: New guy at some covert American government agency stumbles into an ongoing inter agency feud between two rival teams of spies. The boss is assassinated and before he dies he initiates Project: Endgame, a self destruct sequence set to blow up their office multiple floors below ground with only one secret escape hatch. What follows is a series of set pieces as the spies seem intent on killing each other as they fight for survival.

OK so with that out of the way I will make reference to something i've discovered in other reviews of this flick; Americans really don't seem to understand the humour. Being originally from the UK I found this to be a very funny movie in parts but it seems that the subtlety of some of it has gone straight over the heads of a lot of American reviewers. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you it's an excellent comedy because some times it really seems to miss the boat BUT it's a much better comedy than it is an action movie that's fer sure.

Rob Corddry who seems to have a double D in his surname and was recently seen being very funny in Hot Tub Time Machine steals the opening segment with his alcohol fuelled ranting at and about his colleagues in the office. The majority of the great dialogue throughout the film can be found coming out of his mouth. The writing is at times superb and at other times a little too contrived, entire scenes apparently written to allow one line of 'clever' dialogue to be spouted by one of the spies merely serving to highlight the superfluousness of the line, bringing the viewer out of the moment instead of allowing you to enjoy the ride for what it is; a fun comedy with some comedic violence.

The action is a bit of a letdown, especially after Shoot 'Em Up and Smokin' Aces amongst others set the bar for this kind of comedy/action hybrid, but on the same level it's pretty much on par with more recent flicks RED and Wild Target. It's currently a popular genre that hasn't really managed to provide us with a 'classic' just yet so perhaps O:E shouldn't be judged too harshly.

If there's a central character it's New Man, Fool (UK actor Joe Anderson who was apparently in Musical Britflicks Control and Across the Universe,) with the most amount of screen time and the man the 'plot' weaves around. It is his first day in the office, it is through his eyes that we meet the rest of the cast and his presence allows for the expositional dialogue to feel a bit more natural. Joe Anderson is pretty good in the movie but when you have Adam Scott, Zach Galifianakis and Jeffrey Tambor in a film you would hope that they would be a little more present, again I think this fact detracts from the film for the viewer, whether you want more Zach, more Ving Rhames or more Ellen Barkin, you're still wanting something that the movie just isn't providing.

Another possible detraction is the rejection of the three act structure that typifies Western storytelling. There is no real beginning, middle and end here folks. The first part of the movie plays like a live action Archer (Fricken awesome show, watch it all right this second if you haven't already) with squabbling spies in an office environment leading to some very funny conversations whilst the second half removes that personal touch and concentrates on getting those one-liners out as often as possible whilst people die in imaginative ways. What plot there is takes a backseat until the end of the movie and then shazaam death and destruction, there is a winner and the credits roll.

Overall I actually quite liked it and I recommend watching it for a number of reasons.
1) You're a fan of this type of comedy-action movie, although if you've seen one you've seen them all at this point.
2) You enjoy the subtle humour found in a lot of British films such as Shaun of the Dead
3) You don't take your action films too seriously, don't expect amazing effects or set pieces and just accept a bit of silly never hurt anyone.
4) Rob Corddry

Operation Endgame (2010) DivX -