Judging from the dark opening credits and earnestly scripted initial scene, you might wonder if Operation: Endgame is supposed to be an actual action drama. But don’t worry -- even though the film maintains the modest tone and earnest score of a totally serious spy thriller, this movie is a satire, and a funny one at that.
Not that you’d have any trouble discerning this by five minutes into the story. We begin with a new recruit (Joe Anderson) to the government’s most top-secret spy organization, The Factory, receiving an awesomely severe verbal beating from his new co-worker, codenamed “Chariot” (Rob Corddry). In between sips from a revolver-shaped flask, strategically orchestrated “your mom” jokes, and an ongoing carpet f-bombing, Chariot explains to the new hire (who receives the code name “the Fool”) how their covert network of assassins works. The whole program is divided into two teams, Alpha and Omega, who keep the military-industrial complex alive by tackling opposing sides of every issue and conflict, competing with each other to perpetuate the cycle that keeps them all employed. Both teams are overseen by a single boss, the Devil (Jeffrey Tambor), who has official sway over everyone, from demolitions expert Judgement (Ving Rhames) to red-hot vixen and consummate smack-talker the Empress (Ellen Barkin). The Devil starts the day by calling everyone to a meeting in their locked-down underground bunker of an office, forcing everyone to deposit their guns in an inaccessible safe so that nobody can kill him. But he turns up dead anyway, setting off a self-destruct sequence for the bunker, and leading all the Alpha and Omega members to respectively turn on each other, attacking their adversaries with table legs and staple removers in lieu of pistols.
All this chaos is being watched by mild-mannered surveillance techs Neal (Michael Hitchcock) and Carl (Tim Bagley), who provide hilariously aghast and decidedly non-jaded reactions, peppered with weird banalities and non sequitur observations during their ongoing commentary on the fiasco. The two end up stealing the show, and their most-likely improvised reactions are some of the funniest content in the movie. Though Rob Corddry and his constant stream of epithets are also pretty fantastic, it’s a schtick that could easily have fallen flat after being worked so hard in painfully average fare like Hot Tub Time Machine, but in this expertly enacted format it’s hysterical.
Said format is this: Operation: Endgame is directed with a straight face, meaning if it weren’t for the crazy words coming out of people’s mouths, this would for all intents and purposes be a serious movie. The film is shot -- not to mention edited -- within an inch of its life, orchestrated with expert cuts and a tense string score that could have been lifted out of a De Palma movie. There’s never a pause for laughter or acknowledgment of the comedy, which of course makes the comedy even funnier. The only problem is that as the plot progresses, the humor takes more of a backseat, leaving us to rely on the action. That action is mostly constrained to melee (people trapped in a confined space, fighting each other with handheld objects), though while it’s far from skillful martial arts choreography, the film still wins points for fully exercising its R rating for the purposes of gratifying, curse word-laden fight banter.
The final act of the movie also comes to rely a little heavier on the plot, and though the story is pretty novel (pondering whether the brand-new Obama administration entering the White House will have any major effect on the Factory’s future status as an integral function of the U.S. government), you can’t help wishing the filmmakers would keep the humor coming at a steady rate. It’s not so much that the narrative isn’t good, it’s just that the jokes are better -- but at least the jokes are still there. The plot is smart, but the humor (when it’s not delightfully crude) is smarter.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2010
- Rating: R
- Review: Judging from the dark opening credits and earnestly scripted initial scene, you might wonder if Operation: Endgame is supposed to be an actual action drama. But don’t worry -- even though the film maintains the modest tone and earnest score of a totally se… (more)