Operation: Endgame

Dir: Fouad Mikati
Star: Joe Anderson, Rob Corddry, Ellen Barkin, Odette Yustman

The US government has two black ops divisions, Alpha and Omega, which work against each other in a form of balance, and operate out of the same underground complex, with codenames assigned from the Tarot deck, and both under the oversight of The Devil. The Fool (Anderson) is a new arrival on the day of President Obama's inauguration, and is part of Omega, alongside the foul-mouthed and irritable Chariot (Corddry), with his old flame, Temperance (Yustman) is on Alpha. Allegiances are thrown into disarray, however, when the Devil is assassinated in his office, but initiates the titular operation. That has locked down the complex, and a self-destruction protocol will be triggered in two hours, wiping out all trace of the two organizations. War breaks out between the two factions, using whatever makeshift weapons can be found in the office environment, as they try to escape from the complex, as the eccentric yet talented Hermit (Zach Galifianakis) runs interference on both sides.

There's no denying it's a completely-contrived situation. Why would a government both to run two diametrically-opposed organizations and then house them in the same building? However, I'll let that slide, as the pay-off is a lot of fun. Corddry's rant on discovering his security code won't let him in is memorable, as were the "deaths by office supplies," particularly the one using a shredder. A lot of the cast are somewhat well-known comedians, and this is the aspect which probably works best. It's less successful straying into dramatic territory; one sense the script wants to be satirical about the Bush era, and it probably shouldn't have bothered. Sticking to its strengths, as a twisted, psychotic version of Office Space, would have been preferable. Fortunately, it's a minor aspect, and the enjoyable characters (most of whom we were sorry to see dispatched) and cruel humour, largely make up for any dramatic shortcomings.

[January 2011]

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