Operation Endgame has one brief moment of comedy: Rod Corddry kills someone with a paper shredder. It works because the gore is excessive, the shredder initially tears off Tower’s (Brandon T. Jackson) horribly fake nose, and the sound effects of the office tool struggling to tear through flesh and bone are actually well timed.
That’s it out of 82-minutes of film.
With a cast of Zach Galifianakis, Ving Rhames, Adam Scott, Jefferey Tambor, and Tim Bagley, you expect something amusing, but it all fails… terribly. It’s not just unfunny; it’s unbearable, albeit a marketing teams dream cast. First time director Fouad Mikati does nothing with the action scenes, and the final screenplay from Sam Levinson does nothing right.
Unsurprisingly, the bigger A-list stars are killed off quickly in this incoherent mess that pits two rival assassin teams against each other in some underground government facility. If they manage to survive, like Galifianakis, they don’t actually have anything to do until the finale. By then, it’s all too late.
Operation Endgame barely makes it to feature length, yet still manages to feel sluggish. Running gags include Chariot’s (Corddry) drinking problem, which wasn’t funny the first time. Everything is set against the inauguration of Barack Obama, a kind of political statement that will be lost on most. It’s not interesting or engaging, and any of the thriller elements go out the window when half the characters are wiped out within 20-minutes. Jason Vorhees would be envious of that body count (and likely the paper shredder kill).
This is an ugly, cheap film, shot on a dull film stock and then desaturated. Everything seems lit by overhead lighting, blowing out the contrast, obscuring faces, and eliminating detail. At times, it is barely noticeable that this is film, but instead appearing digital and soft. The flat black levels and nearly monochrome color don’t help. The AVC encode causing some noise when failing to resolve on certain backdrops (such as 34:31) are one of the few indicators this is actually film.
Textural detail is rare, and generally appears slightly processed when spotted. Rhames’ face at 28:29 resolves pores, one of the few moments where anything appears natural. Beth Grant’s face near the end of the film at 1:16:30 looks to be processed and waxy, as if the make-up department went haywire. Almost undoubtedly, it’s the combo of cheap visual effects and lighting.
Shots at any distance are blown out, such as the desk at 10:44. The papers stacked up appear blank, yet in other shots clearly show text. Environments are bland by design, generally flat concrete walls with no discernible texture to speak of in the first place. A few outdoor scenes fare no better, including the opening where some minimal plants offer lackluster definition and pervasive softness, which will carry most of this film to the end.
Bass is the highlight of this PCM mix, loud and forceful if a bit muddy. A few transitions are greeted by a loud drum for dramatic effect (ignoring the fact it adds nothing), while the real highlights remain a few explosions. The first is at 57:26, as the duct system goes up in flames. It’s a strong rattle that extends fairly deep into the LFE, but lacks clarity.
The same goes for the finale around 1:12:40, where a massive string of napalm is set off, engulfing anything in its path. The flames travel through the sound field rather poorly, while generating a powerful rumble on the low-end. Dialogue seems to have been recorded cheaply (almost no doubt), and carries a bit of a hollow echo. The mostly empty sets create that type of environment.
Action scenes, including numerous fights, stay firmly planted in the center. As characters swing objects around, the stereo channels stay quiet, and the music sits in the stereo channels barely even noticeable.
Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, which is really just random footage from the set, at times inaudible. An alternate opening is uninspired, and a whopping 28-seconds of an alternate ending is just an unfinished effect shot (seriously).