HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

OPERATION: ENDGAME -- DVD review by porfle

A fast-moving cloak-and-dagger action flick that's smart and funny, OPERATION: ENDGAME is adrenaline-fueled fun from start to finish.

The whole thing takes place in the secret subterranean headquarters of a hush-hush black ops group known as The Factory, where two teams, Alpha and Omega, keep each other tenuously in check while performing dirty deeds for the government.  Each member is code-named for a tarot card, and it's The Fool's (Joe Anderson, THE CRAZIES) first day on the job.  The nervous new guy is given a tour of the facility by a drunken, foulmouthed burnout named Chariot (Rob Corddry, BLADES OF GLORY) and the hot but deadly High Priestess (Maggie Q, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD), finding it to be like a cross between "Get Smart" and "Office Space."

But The Fool soon discovers that his first day will be anything but typical when their mentally-unbalanced, suicidal leader, The Devil (Jeffrey Tambor), unexpectedly sets "Operation: Endgame" into motion.  This means that the complex is sealed off and will explode in about two hours, and that the two teams will now try to kill each other while searching for a hidden exit known only by their late boss and a spooky lone agent named The Hermit (Zach Galifianakis).  Things become even more complicated when The Fool encounters an opposing team member named Temperance (Odette Yustman) who happens to be an old girlfriend.

What follows is an exciting, often amusing series of surprisingly bloody death matches between various agents.  We never know who's going to be paired off against each other next since there are so many unknown agendas involved in "Operation: Endgame" and some of the more psychotic participants, such as sweet-looking Bible thumper Heirophant (Emilie de Ravin), have a survival instinct that is matched only by their bloodlust.  (When we first see Heirophant, she's sitting in her cubicle scribbling "I love killing" repeatedly on a notepad.) 

Some of the fight scenes are reminscent of the Bond vs. Grant train sequence in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE while others are just a bloody mess with the unarmed agents flailing away with whatever office supplies or other sundry items they can creatively use as weapons.  Meanwhile, Michael Hitchcock and Tim Bagley play Neal and Carl, two mild-mannered, befuddled office drones who man the surveillance center and watch what's happening as though it were a reality TV show. 

One-liners and droll character gags abound--Jeffrey Tambor ("Arrested Development", "The Larry Sanders Show") is especially good as he wearily trades snide insults with his uppity underlings.  As the sardonic "Empress", Ellen Barkin continues in the "Rosa Klebb" mode she displayed in BROOKLYN'S FINEST but with more sex appeal and a wicked sadistic streak.  Clearly having fun without straining himself too much, Ving Rhames plays "Judgement", a bomb expert who never passes up a pun on his codename ("It's judgement time, baby").  The rest of the cast is fine, with Bob Odenkirk ("Mr. Show") his usual wonderful self as "Emperor" and Joe Anderson's semi-heroic rookie agent convincingly clueless about the whole thing.

Exposition flies by early on so you might want to keep your finger on the rewind button until you get all the details straight, although they don't really matter that much.  It all has something to do with the transition of power from Bush to Obama, with the evil Bushies scrambling to cover up their covert misdeeds before the honest and open Obama administration sheds its heavenly light upon them and cleans up Washington.  (As Michael Corleone once said:  "Now who's being naive?")  Anyway, the "Bush bad, Obama good" campaign-commercial vibe gets old pretty quick, but unless this appeals to you, just ignore it and you should be okay.

The DVD from Anchor Bay is in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 with English and Spanish subtitles.  Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette plus alternate opening and ending scenes.

OPERATION: ENDGAME is an imaginative blend of laughs and thrills that takes itself just seriously enough to maintain genuine suspense. Watching this colorful array of deadly eccentrics going at each other tooth and nail as the countdown to obliteration ticks away makes for a pretty entertaining action-comedy flick. 

Buy it at

No comments: