Based on a remake of a Russian classic, Gentlemen Of Fortune is a mistaken identity comedy that’s ability to amuse will depend entirely on the audience’s ability to buy into the premise of the film and then go along with it, which should be easy for the youngsters, but significantly harder for anyone after something a little more intelligent.
The story involves dedicated children’s entertainer Lesha (Sergei Bezrukov), whose doppelgänger happens to be the psychotic leader of a criminal gang that’s just stolen the $9,000,000 Armour of the Golden Warrior made entirely of gold from the city museum. With the leader missing in action and his two bumbling henchman finding themselves jailed in Egypt, Lesha’s recruited by a beautiful police officer (Marina Petrenko) to use his acting skills to infiltrate the henchmen and find out where the suit is. They break out of jail and find themselves on the lam. Along the way Lesha grows close to the two men while scarring the wits out of them with his adapted persona and must work with them to only retrieve the armour but defeat their real leader when he uncovers the plan.
Gentlemen Of Fortune is a ridiculously silly movie. Despite the fact that Russia has a long history of stylistically innovative and narratively original films, the film makers feel the need to rip off the worst traits of American comedy and it’s gags from well over a decade ago [Full disclosure: this reviewer hasn’t seen the original film on which it’s based, but has seen enough Midnight Run clones to last a lifetime]. The film also begins with a mild-mannered narration which at this point is just annoying – especially in a Christmas themed movie, which might be why America has not only parodied it but stopped parodying it because that jokes dead too. It’s also hard to root for a modern set movie where one of the characters, no matter how stupid, practices and believes in the science of phrenology (where the size of the skull reflects intellect and penchant for criminality) which was dealt with so much better recently in (the period set) Django Unchained by Leonardo DiCaprio’s character. As well as seemingly borrowing its conventions from American cinema (if it had in fact used the same plot in the original then it should have been updated for a modern audience that’s become accustomed to those American films), it also uses an achingly bright Hollywood aesthetic that becomes especially tedious by the end of the film.
Despite these concerns, indeed perhaps because of them, the film might appeal more to children than to their parents who won’t find much of interest here.
Gentlemen of Fortune is screening as part of the 2013 Russian Resurrection Film Festival. For session times and further info, visit the RRFF website.