By Matt Joseph
”Operation Endgame” is a strange film, to say the least. Boasting a respectable ensemble cast and an interesting premise, the film does show promise. While it never received a wide release in theatres, the film is now out on Blu Ray and audiences now have the chance to view this eccentric hodgepodge in high definition. Does ”Operation Endgame” turn out to be the hidden gem that many were hoping it to be? Or does the film deserve its straight to DVD status?
”Operation Endgame” tells the story of ‘The Factory’, an elite group of assassins who work out of a secret underground bunker. The assassins are split up into two divisions, Alpha and Omega. The movie opens with our protagonist, known as The Fool, starting his first day on the job for the Omega team. All is well at first, but when someone murders their boss The Devil, all hell breaks loose. Project Endgame, the Factory’s self destruct feature is triggered and to make things worse, the assassins only have a short amount of time to find an escape route out of the bunker before it blows up. As tensions rise, the Alpha team is pitted against the Omega team and the two teams go head to head as they try to assassinate the opposing team members all while trying to find a way out of the bunker.
The first thing that will stick out about this quirky film is its surprisingly decent cast. For a direct to DVD movie, ”Operation Endgame” has a nice cast. The big names here are Zach Galifianakis and Rob Corddry but also rounding out the cast are Emilie de Ravin, Ellen Barkin, Ving Rhames, Jeffrey Tambor and Adam Scott. Prima facie you may think that ”Operation Endgame” would turn out to be a wildly hilarious and unconventional gem of a film. In fact, if you only watched the first 20-30 minutes you may be right. The film starts off strong and does tend to take the more comedic route. It is only after the plot is set into motion that we see the film for what it is, a haphazard attempt to mix the action and comedy genres.
As previously mentioned, the film starts off well. Deciding to focus more on the comedy aspect, the initial set up of the film is pretty humorous. Corddry leads the charge here as he spews off sharp one liners and constantly keeps the ball rolling. The comedy in the film works well as it plays into the eccentric nature of the film. It is only once the boss is murdered that the film takes a turn for the worse. What follows is a clumsy script, some poorly executed direction and a true waste of talent.
The first problem I had with the film is that there is never really any connection to any of the characters. The introductions are handled poorly and we never really get to know anyone well enough to truly care if they make it out alive. Throw in the fact that all the characters use names from tarot cards and it starts to get confusing trying to figure out who is who. The perfunctory script doesn’t help matters either as it never gives us a look at the motives behind everything. Everything happens so quickly and we never really know the reason for any of it? Why do Alpha and Omega team hate each other so much? Why are they civil at one moment and trying to kill each other the next? Why is the boss murdered? The film only brushes lightly against these questions rather than stabbing deeper into them. The purpose behind everything is hazy at best and it makes the film far less engaging than it otherwise could have been.
The cast is not to fault for the outcome of the film. Just about everyone does a solid job. Corddry is the star and carries the film but the rest of the ensemble does their part pretty well. Barkin is quite funny in her role as Empress and Tambor is over the top as usual in his short time on screen as the boss. A couple cast members are underused (Ving Rhames and Adam Scott) and the only actor who seems awkwardly placed is Galifianakis. He doesn’t have as much screen time as one would think and his role just doesn’t work. He doesn’t quite know what he wants his character to be and it makes for some strange scenes.
After the boss is murdered the film starts to take itself way too seriously. It wants to be the next “Smokin Aces” or even ”Snatch” for that matter but it is far too silly for that. It drops most of the comedy in the second half and tries to go more into the action area. The confusing plot and flimsy script certainly hold the film back and while the film does have some truly funny moments, there just aren’t enough. First time director Fouad Mikati’s lack of experience is probably the main culprit of these shenanigans but the inexperience of screenwriters Sam Levinson and Brian Watanabe is equally at fault.
”Operation Endgame” has its moments and some of it is entertaining but in the end there just isn’t enough good to outweigh the bad. Perhaps if it had stuck more to the comedy it would have turned out better. Instead it decides to take its intriguing premise and run in the wrong direction with it.
One thing to note is the characters of Carl and Neal. Carl and Neal are essentially watchers. They sit in front of security screens and monitor the mayhem that is going on down in the bunker. The chitchat between them is amusing and their commentary on what they’re witnessing provides for some of the film’s funnier moments. Their presence in the film is entertaining despite it being somewhat pointless.
In the end, ”Operation Endgame” isn’t awful but it’s not very good. It never seems to find the right middle ground between action and comedy and the lack of experience coming from the filmmakers hurts what otherwise could have been a pretty enjoyable film. The performances are pretty strong and Corddry is the highlight here. There are some imaginative kills and some nice blood/gore but aside from that, the film doesn’t offer much. Rent it if you’d like but I can’t recommend a purchase.
Blu-Ray Details and Extras
The transfer of the film is handled fairly well but it’s nothing that you would want to show off. The picture is pretty sharp and detail is nicely presented. There is a bit of grain here and there but nothing that is too detrimental. Due to some poor lighting on the set flesh tones do come off as a bit uneven and it does get quite bad at some points of the film. Black levels look nice and the print overall looks pretty clean. Aside from the flesh tones issue there isn’t anything here that you should worry about. While it won’t wow you, the transfer does get the job done.
The audio is a pretty standard affair with dialogue reproduction coming out clearly and the music playing smoothly. The music is mixed in well and never feels overbearing or too loud. The surround channels are not utilized as well as they could have been but when they are used they sound fine.
Special features wise there isn’t a whole lot on the disc. We get a behind the scenes featurette, an alternate opening/ending and a trailer. Nothing here is terribly important and aside from the behind the scenes featurette, nothing else is even worth a look. The featurette is your standard behind the scenes look offering some on set footage mixed in with interviews and scenes from the film. If you liked the film you mise well give it a watch. The alternate opening and ending add nothing at all and aren’t worth your time.
Overall ”Operation Endgame” would make a decent rental at best. While it does have its moments, it has too much untapped potential. With some more experienced direction and writing it may have turned out to be truly entertaining. Instead we get a ”Smokin Aces wannabe” that ends up getting lost in its own messy script and can never quite decide what it wants to be.