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With: Zach Galifianakis, Emilie de Ravin, Maggie Q, Odette Yustman, Rob Corddry, Adam Scott, Ellen Barkin, Ving Rhames, Brandon T. Jackson, Jeffrey Tambor, Joe Anderson, Beth Grant, Bob Odenkirk, Tim Bagley, Michael Hitchcock, Matt Baker
Written by: Sam Levinson, based on a screenplay by Brian Watanabe
Directed by: Fouad Mikati
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and pervasive language including sexual references
Running Time: 82
Date: 07/16/2010

Operation Endgame (2010)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Office Case

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Fouad Mikati's Operation Endgame has a cool, current cast and some very funny dialogue, and it has a good, speedy pace, but it's easy to see how it missed a theatrical release. When all is said and done, it just doesn't make much sense.

A young man (Joe Anderson) shows up for his first day of work. He's now employed with a collection of secret government agents, each of whom is code-named after Tarot cards. Our hero will henceforth be known as the Fool. These agents are divided up into two teams, Alpha and Omega, and they are apparently at odds with one another. One team works to create war, and the other to restore peace, or some such thing. The action takes place on the day of President Obama's inauguration, and there's a hint that, with the end of the Bush administration, their services will no longer be needed.

Mysteriously, the boss, known as the Devil (Jeffrey Tambor) is murdered, and "Project Endgame" (not, for some reason, "Operation Endgame" as the title says) is put into play. This means that their secret underground office is locked down and set to blow up. Unless they can find the Devil's (rumored) secret escape route, they will all die. The team members split up to search, and for some reason, each team consists of one Alpha and one Omega. Of course, they start to try to kill one another. Then, as it goes on, it makes even less sense.

Zach Galifianakis is probably the selling point, but he's hardly onscreen and doesn't have much to do or say. Rob Corddry steals the show as the drunk, foul-mouthed Chariot, launching into some of the most creative insults I've heard in some time. Maggie Q is sexy and Emilie de Ravin is cute, but they take a backseat to Odette Yustman, as Temperence, who has a tempestuous history with the Fool. Adam Scott is the Magician, Ellen Barkin is the equally foul-mouthed, sexy, badass "Empress," Ving Rhames is the cool Judgment, and Brandon T. Jackson is the slightly odd, Republican-leaning Tower.

Two desk jockeys, Carl (Tim Bagley) and Neal (Michael Hitchcock), have the job of monitoring all these people on security cameras, which occasionally gives us a chance for a breather and some running commentary. Beth Grant plays their supervisor.

The movie makes excellent use of a single, enclosed space and its easily recognizable ensemble cast. The fight scenes are pretty good, and I have to admit I laughed a great deal during the movie's first third, but the whole thing is just too half-baked and confused to count for much. It has a most curious credit, with Sam Levinson credited as writer, and "based on an earlier screenplay" by Brian Watanabe. It's hard to imagine what kind of fighting and meddling might have gone on there, but the result is clear enough. I suppose it's worth a lazy evening's rental, but will be quickly forgotten.

Anchor Bay released the Blu-Ray, which comes with a making-of featurette, and alternate opening and ending scenes.

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