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Monday, January 3, 2011

A Little-Late Film Review: Operation-Endgame

Operation: Endgame (2010, Infinity Films; Photo:
When I first chose this film to review, I was expecting it to be terrible, a wheel-turner with lots of violence for violence‘s sake.  I was surprised that I was actually laughing at some of the dialogue and falling in love with some of the characters.  Operation: Endgame is an action/comedy that follows a young recruit on his first day as a member of a secret group of assassins who are bunked up in an underground facility.    The cast of insane characters includes a southern girl who happens to be a homicidal psychopath and a sex-crazed gunner who inserts his codename as a pun into every line of dialogue.  During the first meeting of Fool’s new career, an alarm sounds and a countdown begins.  In two hours everything in the underground structure will be incinerated.  The assassins are being erased coinciding with the transfer of power from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, and not only are they threatened by the two hour countdown, but the assassins are turning on one another, systematically eliminating each other.  Fool, Temperance (Fool’s ex-flame who happens to work there), and a veteran killer named Chariot attempt to survive the wiles of the skilled death-dealers long enough to find an alternate way out of the building before the bombs go off.

Operation: Endgame is a very simple movie.  Hot women beating the crap out of each other and also wiping the floor with relatively unattractive men all the while trying to beat the clock.  The film is vulgar and violent; filled with bloody fight scenes and foul language.  It is also snarky, well choreographed and generally entertaining. 

Honestly, I have a hard time pinpointing what it is I liked about Operation: Endgame.  It’s not a masterpiece by any definition of the word.  It has a number of story conveniences and contrivances that reveal the simple plot as just a reason to depict violence on the screen (I always imagine the writers write the action scenes first, then write the story around them).  The film has a tiny cast, some are known stars like Zach Galifianakis, Ving Rhames, Maggie Q, and the Daily Show’s Rob Corddry; the others are relative unknowns and C-list character actors.  Also the confined space is an indicator of the film’s undersized budget.  The directorial and writing crew are all newcomers and the film had almost no major publicity.  So what is there to like?

The characters are all distinct, fun and well-written.  While most of them die before we get to know them, a scene of exposition lays them out for us.  The various assassins are more or less cartoons; over-the-top stereotypes different enough to make them distinguishable and to make them clash with each other.  The writing is quite funny and some of the death scenes are so excessive that they make you laugh more than they make you cringe (I point to the scene where one man’s face is shredded up with a paper shredder and another where a woman is killed when a half-full water cooler tank is forced into her mouth).  I have to believe this was the intention.  The ├╝ber-violence is quite funny even though it really shouldn’t be.  The gore level is on par with some slasher films, still, there’s something about the deaths, given the film’s tone, that makes them more entertaining than disturbing, kind of like those in A Nightmare On Elm Street.

Operation: Endgame is only a moderately-good but still inventive action flick with a lot of cool and engaging characters.  It has flaws, but they are forgivable.  Look at it this way, I am very judgmental towards films.  I expect a lot (most of the time), but this movie was entertaining enough for me to give it a recommendation.  If I liked it, and you’re an action film fan, you will probably love it, ha.  This one is not for the kiddies, and it‘s not going to win an Oscar, but for a testosterone-fest with insane characters and lots of crazy and well-directed fight scenes, it’s a winner.

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