Notable Cast: Rob Corddry, Ving Rhames, Joe Anderson, Odette Yustman, Zach Galifianakis, Adam Scott, Jeffery Tambor, Bob Odenkirk, Maggie Q, Ellen Barkin, Brandon T. Jackson, Emily de Ravin
Review: Normally I try to stick to recent films for full movie reviews, but since this little puppy went straight to DVD, I decided to give it its fair shot. Don’t get caught into the mindset that all direct to DVD movies are complete bargain bin garbage. There could be multiple reasons why it happened, from funding to behind the scenes hold ups. Trick ‘r Treat is one of the best horror compilations/Halloween films created to date, but it went straight to DVD, not because of quality. So when I saw the plot and cast for Operation: Endgame, I knew it was a must watch. Mindless action + Ving Rhames? I’m in. But it was also the presence of comedy that attracted me to this film, and the potential a lot of other cast members brought because of their own comedic styles. I figured it would be the perfect role for Corddry, the down on his luck alcoholic assassin, and Bob Odenkirk, among others, also has a great comedic mind. But with everything this film could have amounted to, it just seems flat and pedestrian. Besides the fact that Corddry put his big boy pants on and really stepped up in this film, Operation: Endgame never really amasses any real excitement.
The film centers around your typical secret government agency, called The Factory, which is composed of two teams: Alpha and Omega. All the agent’s code names come from tarot cards, which somewhat reflect their personality. On Omega you have Empress (Barkin), Hierophant (de Ravin), Temperance (Yustman), Tower (Jackson), and Magician (Scott). Then on the Alpha team you have Chariot (Corddry), Emperor (Odenkirk), Judgement (Rhames), High Priestess (Q) and the new guy on his first day, The Fool (Anderson). Overseeing them all is the Devil (Tambor), fittingly named. Their job is to take all the missions the rest of the country can’t know about. But when the Devil is found dead and a program called Operation: Endgame is activated, the teams are left with two hours to find a way out of the now sealed building. Pairing up into teams, one Alpha with one Omega, their mission becomes finding a secret way out since none of them killed the Devil, meaning someone had to have found a way in. Their bet is on an old agent named Hermit (Galifianakis), but still there are too many questions to trust anyone. But things only get more complicated. It is soon revealed by Empress that one final mission had been given to Omega…eliminate Alpha. The two warring teams now have to battle each other while simultaneously trying to find a way out because if they stay stuck, they all die anyway.
A lot of the best parts in this film come from the commentary given by the two security workers that manage the video cameras set up around the Alpha and Omega office. Michael Hitchcock and Tim Bagley play Neil and Carl, the two men who sit safely above ground and can only watch the events unfold. But it’s their reactions that make them so hilarious. As people would die, the camera would cut back to them screaming “Ewww” and other lines that went along perfectly with the killings. They also work to move the plot along because the assassins are too busy fighting. None of them have time to sit down and think, so you have Neil and Carl uncovering evidence and working to figure out the intricate details of the plot. In a way, the film makes the duo reflect the audience, reacting just as we would react to that moment in the movie. Neil and Carl: the unsung heroes of Operation: Endgame.
There were some other strong moments. As I said, Corddry really backpacked the comedy in this film. Like him or not, Corddry has some serious comedic presence that is seriously apparent in the down on his luck, depressed, and rage filled anti-hero. Which is Chariot to a tee. The insults he rattles off with ease only get raunchier and more hilarious the angrier his character gets. The greatest lines of the film come when Neil and Carl lock Chariot out of the office and wait to see how angry they can make Corddry’s character. In fact, it seemed that every funny part of the film involved Corddry directly or indirectly. Although he did a great job, and with no offense to Mr. Corddry, but what does it mean when a usual backing character has to carry a film himself while he is surrounded by such strong actors?
With all the great actors in this film, don’t expect anything special from the real big names. Honestly, most of the actors here weren’t used correctly at all. Expect minimal screen time from the biggest names, making them seem more like a marketing ploy instead of being used for a great character. Between having Adam Scott, Jeffery Tambor, Zach Galifianakis, and Bob Odenkirk, there was gross misuse of each and every comedically talented actor. Even Brandon T. Jackson could have been given a much better part, having proved himself in Tropic Thunder. But, that’s the problem with having so many big name actors in one film, there’s a severe shortage of sufficient screen time for each single character. Hence the problem that Operation: Endgame has, too many characters worth watching in a severely short amount of time.
In short, Operation: Endgame really never amounts to anything spectacular. It all sounds great as a premise and the cast assembled brings a lot of prestige to the film, but the execution just isn’t there. There aren’t enough laugh out loud moments from a cast who has proven themselves hilarious in multiple other roles. Rob Corddry is the heaviest hitter in the film, which is surprising when you have the likes of Ving Rhams and Adam Scott, who both have earned my fandom numerous times. Sure, the direct to DVD label doesn’t give it full justice, but don’t expect a hidden gem in this film. Finding Operation: Endgame in the bargain bin is probably the only way I’ll be adding this action comedy to my collection.
Final Rating: 6 misused respectable actors out of 10