The Movie Guru: “Creed III” visually stunning, but “Operation Fortune” a disappointment
Creed III (in theaters)
“Creed III” is great if you don’t think about it too hard.
The directorial debut of star Michael B. Jordan, the movie is a visual delight with all the energy “Creed II” lacked. The fight scenes are all fantastic, shot with an anime sensibility that pulls us deep into each fighter’s perspective. There’s both a poetry and a physicality to the fights that took a ton of choreography but feels effortless to the viewer. Even if you’re not a boxing fan in real life, it’s hard not to get sucked in.
The acting is also good, particularly Jonathan Majors as Damian. The main antagonist for Jordan’s Adonis Creed, Majors makes Damian furious, wounded, and desperate in equal measure. Prison stole his dreams, and now he’s determined to wrestle them back by taking out Adonis in the ring.
This is where you can’t think too hard about the movie. In Majors’ hands, Damian is basically in exactly the same position as Adonis in the first movie. Adonis, on the other hand, is now a rich gym owner who will lose nothing but a little pride if he loses to Damian. The entire spirit of the “Rocky” movies demands we support the desperate underdog, which suggests we should want Damian to win.
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Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t agree with that. It insists we should still see Adonis as the underdog, despite all evidence to the contrary, and trying to reconcile that damages the film. It’s still a good fight, but a lesson from the first “Rocky” would have made it better.
Sometimes, it’s okay if the hero loses.
Grade: Three stars
Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre (in theaters)
Even if you’re a Guy Ritchie fan, it’s easy to be disappointed in “Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre.”
On the surface, the movie seems to have all the hallmarks of Ritchie’s quick, kinetic style. There’s snappy, high-speed dialogue, dramatic action cuts, and a madcap plot. Jason Statham is even there, doing his usual stoic-faced action star routine.
Sadly, none of it is up to Ritchie’s usual standards. The quips fall flat, the performances are mostly half-hearted, and the plot tips past complicated into pointlessly incomprehensible. The script has no idea what to do with Aubrey Plaza, clips through as many clichés as possible at high speed and is desperately lacking either danger or charm. The fate of the free world is supposedly at stake, but it’s impossible to care.
Nominally “Operation Fortune” is a spy movie, with Statham, Plaza, and Bugzy Malone tasked with getting a mysterious suitcase back from rich supervillain Hugh Grant. Cary Elwes is Statham and Plaza’s handler, and Josh Hartnett is there as an actor sucked into the drama. There’s too much dialogue, not enough action sequences, and not enough excitement in the action sequences we do get.
Plaza and Grant occasionally look like they’re at least having fun, but Hartnett’s the only cast member who genuinely appears to be acting. Together they give the movie what little sparkle it has, but it’s not nearly enough to save it.
Grade: One and a half stars
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Denver Film Critics Society. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.