Operation: Endgame (US - BD RA)
Gabe watches ten little top secret operatives kill the crap out of each other
Miles beneath the streets of Los Angeles lies the heavily fortified headquarters of ‘The Factory’, an elite espionage cell divided into two factions. The latest, codenamed ‘The Fool’ (Joe Anderson), enters the underground headquarters, and is introduced to a rogue’s gallery of crazy operatives, none of whom seem to like each other very much. Just before The Fool’s first official group meeting the cell’s head, The Devil (Jeffrey Tambor), is murdered, and the base’s lockdown self-destruct sequence is activated. The Alpha and Omega teams decide to break into pairs to find an exit, but due to a massive case of underlying mistrust they end up murdering each other violently instead.
I’m immediately weary of Operation: Endgame based on its celebrity talent pool. There aren’t any definitely big stars in the cast, but there is an overload of B and B+ talent, which is usually a pretty good indicator of bad news to come when a film isn’t given a wide release. The distinct lack of any word of mouth doesn’t instill much more confidence. The film begins with a mouthful of exposition from the woefully miscast Rob Corddry. The massive cast is laid out, as is screenwriter Sam Levinson’s awkward sense of humour, but it takes almost 20 of the brief 82 minute runtime to actually start up a plot. Funnily enough, even with the excessive explication the roles are flatly realized (the actors not giving much of an effort doesn’t help), and the narrative doesn’t really go anywhere. These characters are amusing enough (even if I didn’t find myself chuckling even once), but are mostly utilized as listless filler for this elongated short subject. At most Operation: Endgame is an attempt at Ten Little Indians enacted by action heroes, but we’re given no reason to root for or against anyone, so it mostly comes down to waiting for the next brief action vignette on the short road to the end credits.
It’s hard to tell if Operation: Endgame is meant to be a spoof of espionage action flicks, or a genuine attempt at mixing slasher and action tropes. A set of blasé surveillance guys (it’s never clear where they’re sitting in the geographically deficient underground bunker) commenting on the bloody action seems to point to the former, but more likely are just another piece of filler. The dramatic scenes are played with a pretty straight face, and there is an attempt to weight the plot twists, so I’m leaning more towards legitimate action possibility (let’s just ignore the dopey political side of the film altogether). Director Fouad Mikati doesn’t have much to work with, including, apparently, budget, so it’s hard to gage his actual abilities (he certainly knows how to use the 2.35:1 frame). The fight scenes, which are relatively remarkable considering the relative inexperience of most of the actors, are captured effectively enough, and would likely make Jason Voorhees proud in terms of creative kills.
Assuming Operation: Endgame is shot to look steely, blown-out, and fluorescent baked, this is an ace 1080p transfer. The image is crisp, the edges and contrast levels are sharp, and the excessive white levels are clean. There is some minor grain throughout the proceedings, and some minor issues with edge-enhancement, but I didn’t notice any major compression issues. When the fluorescents eventually go out the whole transfer gets a bit fuzzy, and details get lost in the darkness, but the increase in grain is actually aesthetically interesting following an hour of blow-out whiteness. There isn’t a lot of colour in the film. The first two acts look like an ode to Schindler’s List – practically black and white with the occasional red costume to brighten things up. These costumes, and blood, are clean and strong, with no major blocking or bleeding. The darker scenes feature orange highlights thanks to fire being a consistent source of lighting, and though caked in a decent amount of grain, these are warm and consistent in hue.
Once again Anchor Bay opts for a name brandless PCM 5.1, and backs it up with a compressed Dolby Digital 5.1 track for viewers without the appropriate equipment. The sound here steps above and beyond the film’s low budget, but never quite reaches reference level, or even major release heights. The bulk of the track is centered around the spitfire dialogue, and vague environmental noise. The fight scenes feature a bit of swooping directional action, and some impressive pits of LFE bounce, but the bulk of the on-screen action is centered. Occasionally the movement from an off-screen source (specifically a character making his way through ducts) works its way into the rear channels, but mostly the stereo and surround are devoted to the more abstract sound effects made as part of the musical soundtrack. The music gives the LFE a more consistent rumble thanks to throbbing electric bass and pumping percussion, but it’s a brief bit of explosive fire that really vibrates the room.
The extras here are brief, which is too bad since I’m curious about the inception and history of this particular project. ‘Behind the Scenes of Operation: Endgame’ (10:30, SD) is a catch all collection of on set video footage, cut together rather randomly with some footage from the film. It gives no real insight to the production history, but is a decent look at the behind the scenes relationships, and gives the stunt doubles some face time. This is followed by an alternate opening (3:00, SD), which gives away a little bit too soon (and includes the alternate title, Rouges Gallery), and an alternate ending (0:30, SD), which is really no different than the one already included in the film. The disc also features a trailer and trailers for other Anchor Bay releases.
Operation: Endgame isn’t a very good movie, and frankly I’m surprised the script and first time director attracted such an impressive cast (which is, of course, the major selling point), but it isn’t an outwardly bad film either, and if might find an audience on home video. It’s an interesting melding of slasher and espionage tropes in theory, but would’ve worked much better as a rough little short than a feature experience. It’s the kind of movie it’d be fine to catch on television some lazy Sunday, but I don’t recommend spending real money to see it unless you’re a die hard fan of one of the cast members. This Blu-ray release looks and sounds about as good as a modest production with a lot of blown-out visuals can, and features a very light smattering of extras.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray image quality.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 27th July 2010
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: PCM 5.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH
Extras: Behind the Scenes of Operation: Endgame, Alternate Opening, Alternate Ending
Easter Egg: No
Director: Fouad Mikati
Cast: Joe Anderson, Rob Corddry, Ellen Barkin, Odette Yustman, Maggie Q, Zach Galifianakis, Adam Scott, Brandon T. Jackson, Emilie de Ravin, Bob Odenkirk, Ving Rhames, Jeffrey Tambor
Genre: Action and Comedy
Length: 82 minutes
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