OPERATION: ENDGAME Blu-Ray Review

     August 31, 2010

When a film has an eclectic cast including the talents of Rob Corddry, Zach Galifianakis, Maggie Q, Jeffrey Tambor, Ving Rhames, Emilie de Ravin, Adam Scott, Odette Yustman, Ellen Barkin, Brandon T. Jackson and Joe Anderson you’re either in for something fantastic or a complete disaster. Though the fact that this title went straight-to-DVD is somewhat of an indicator, there’s certainly a battle to be fought in deciding whether action and comedy come together to form an entertaining flick. So how does this story of two feuding teams of government assassins fare? Find out after the jump.

First of all, it’s probably best to set the stage for Operation: Endgame. Far underground the more public operations of Washington DC lies The Factory, a secret government organization composed of two teams of operatives (Alpha and Omega) who all seem to be expert assassins in addition to having unique character traits mostly defined by their Tarot card codenames. Though details are a bit foggy, the job of the two teams seems to be maintaining a balance of the chaos that engulfs all the governments of the world and their citizens. We enter The Factory with a new recruit dubbed The Fool on his first day of work at the factory. Things seem like they’re off to a shaky start when he discovers his ex-girlfriend (Temperance, played by Odette Yustman) also works in The Factory, but that’s not even half of what seems like a terrible day at the office.

Initially, The Fool is soaking up all his new workplace has to offer. The abrasive and perpetually drunk Chariot (Rob Corddry) shows him around the office while introducing him to the members on both teams: Judgement (Ving Rhames), a man obsessed with making sure his codename fits into whatever intimidating one-liner he tosses out; Magician (Adam Scott), a smug, bombastic asshole; Heirophant (Emilie de Ravin), a malfunctioning, creepy, juvenile delinquent type; Empress (Ellen Barkin), a bitch who would sleep with and kill you without even thinking about it; High Priestess (Maggie Q) a martial arts expert losing her lust for action; Tower (Brandon T. Jackson), a super-smart but extremely paranoid intelligence agent; Hermit (Zach Galifianakis), an introverted creeper with that serial-killer vibe and finally Devil (Jeffrey Tambor) that man who keeps everyone in line.

Sadly though, when the first meeting of the day is meant to commence, all hell breaks loose when Devil is killed and Project Endgame (I’m not sure why the film’s title doesn’t reflect this plot device) is enacted where the two teams must kill each other and defuse a facility destroying bomb if they are to survive. The over-complicated plot tries to justify these insane developments by tossing it up to the new installation of President Obama who is being inaugurated on the day of this tragedy in The Factory. Unfortunately its exposition like this that cripples the film from being a more entertaining dark comedy and adds to an on-going battle not just between Alpha and Omega but rather comedy and action.

All nitpicking aside, at the core of the problems in the film is a lack of balance between comedy and action. There’s plenty of gruesome, bloody fighting and deaths all around, but the comedic tone and timing surrounding them just doesn’t compliment them and vice versa. You can take action like this seriously with so many comedians spouting off one-liners right before taking a blunt object top the face or a blade to the throat. The stakes can’t be taken seriously because of the comedy, and the jokes feel awkward because of how violent the film is. I’m not saying violence and comedy can’t co-exist (otherwise The Coen Brothers wouldn’t have much of a career), but here they clash in the messiest of ways.

Honestly, Operation: Endgame isn’t terrible, but it’s just messy. Sure there are laughs brought about by the aforementioned cast and especially the security overseers, played brilliantly by Michael Hitchcock and Tim Begley, who provide commentary on the fighting in the factory. Also, the fights in question are certainly brutal and whoever choreographed them, complete with using the most readily available objects in the office as weapons, certainly knows what they’re doing in the action arena. However, with all the twists and turns this film takes, it’d be nice if there was a little more gravitas to the action then just a video game style presentation of different fights with breaks allowing witty dialogue. Though the driving force of the story is seeing who will survive this bloodbath, ultimately, you’re just not given the inclination to care.

THE EXTRAS:

Though this is a spacious Blu-Ray disc, there’s not much in the vein of special features. On this disc you’ll find a roughly ten minute behind-the-scenes featurette, an alternate opening, an alternate ending and the film’s trailer.

THE FINAL WORD:

If you’re desperately curious, renting Operation: Endgame is your best bet, but don’t let the crazy collection of talent fool you into buying what is largely a misfire in the world of action comedies.

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