Jason Statham plays Orson Fortune, an in-demand operative called in by the British government on occasion to execute difficult tasks of national importance. The British government here is represented by Nathan (Cary Elwes), whose job is keeping the unreliable Orson on track. Orson, we are told before we meet him, has a host of phobias, making him a risky hire. But then Orson appears, and he seems like an average laconic-speaking action hero. He boards multiple planes throughout, enduring long international flights with no sign of phobia. So many missed possibilities for humor! Why set up the phobia and then not show it at all?
Should Orson choose to accept it, the task is to track down a stolen briefcase that contains a mysterious object about to be sold on the black market, the shady underworld of arms dealers, drug runners, state secrets, and other nefarious transactions. Nobody knows what’s in the briefcase, but whatever it is is so dangerous it must not get into the wrong hands. (The mystery of what’s in the briefcase is not revealed until halfway through the film. This is meant to be suspenseful but has the opposite effect.) Orson puts together his small team: J.J. Davies (Bugzy Malone), who spends a lot of time staring at GPS screens and reporting locations, and Sara Fidel (Aubrey Plaza), a computer expert who can hack into anything. Their first operation is infiltrating an extremely elite party hosted by billionaire George Simonds (Hugh Grant) on his yacht. Simonds hangs out with a very sketchy group, including two creeps in “biotech” and a roving band of drunken thieves, all of whom also want the briefcase.
Since getting invited to this party is impossible, the team blackmails an unwitting movie star named Danny Francesco (Josh Hartnett), hoping he will be celebrity catnip for the cagey Simonds. It works. With Danny out in front, Orson posing as Danny’s manager, and Sara posing as Danny’s girlfriend, the trio gains access to the party. George lights up at the sight of Danny Francesco, the movie star! Hugh Grant, who was so hilarious in Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen,” is rather inert here. However, the performance does have its high points (his insinuating deadened voice oozing corruption, his flat gray hair, his tinted glasses calling to mind Jim Jones or Robert Evans. He comes across as a cooing dead-eyed gargoyle.) Hijinx, lies, and near-misses ensue. The caper is complicated by warring groups of independent contractors, all after the briefcase, who must be shut down by any means necessary.