Operation: Endgame -- Film Review

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Forget the director and the screenwriters. The real kudos for "Operation: Endgame" -- making a quick pit stop in theaters before hitting the video stores -- belong to casting director Monika Mikkelsen, who has assembled the sort of hilariously diverse ensemble that will stop late-night cable viewers in their tracks while they're flipping channels.

Don't believe me? Try this for size: Zach Galifianakis, Ellen Barkin, Ving Rhames, Jeffrey Tambor, Rob Corddry, Emilie de Ravin, Adam Scott, Bob Odenkirk and Maggie Q, among others. It's B-movie bliss.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case, the cast is wasted in a fairly moronic action comedy. The story revolves around two teams of government assassins, all of them named after Tarot cards, who begin gunning for one another while ensconced in an underground government facility. That the action is taking place during Obama's presidential inauguration doesn't exactly lend the enterprise the clearly desired political satire.

The events ensue upon the arrival of new hire "The Fool" (Joe Anderson) and the almost immediate murder of the boss (Tambor) that leads to a violent free-for-all. The proceedings quickly degenerate into a series of increasingly gruesome killings perpetrated by a wide variety of means, all of which are observed with growing nausea by a pair of security guards watching on monitors.

Screenwriter Sam Levinson's chief attempt at wit is to provide an endless series of outrageously profane exchanges between the characters, especially Corddry, who takes his trademark asshole persona to the edge and beyond.

Still, it's a hoot to watch these performers, even if some of them, such as Odenkirk and Tambor, are sadly underused. A surprisingly restrained Galifianakis -- who clearly participated in this effort before his star began to rise -- is fun as a no-nonsense killer, and Barkin pulls out all the stops with her comically sexy turn that proves she's still got her dangerous erotic allure decades after "Sea of Love."

Opens: Friday, July 16 (Anchor Bay Entertainment)
Production: Infinity Media
Cast: Joe Anderson, Rob Corddry, Ellen Barkin, Odette Yustman, Zach Galifianakis, Emilie de Ravin, Maggie Q, Adam Scott, Brandon T. Jackson, Beth Grant, Bob Odenkirk, Michael Hancock, Ving Rhames, Jeffrey Tambor
Director: Fouad Mikati
Screenwriter: Sam Levinson
Producers: Sean McKittrick, Michael Ohoven, Kevin Turen
Executive producers: Chadwick Clough, Jeff Culotta, Albert T. Dickinson III, Ted Hamm, Bill Johnson, Kevin Kasha, Richard Kelly, Jim Seibel
Director of photography: Arnaud Stefani
Editor: Joshua Ferrazzano
Production design: Michael Grasley
Costume design: Bonnie Stauch
Music: Ian Honeyman
Rated R, 82 minutes
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