“… despite the comedy it didn’t throw drama out the window.”
After watching The Dirties I decided to movie on to Matt Johnson’s second film ‘Operation Avalanche’. Much like The Dirties, Operation Avalanche is a mockumentary/found footage film, but unlike The Dirties Operation Avalanche takes place in the 1960’s. During the American “Space Race”, two CIA agents are placed undercover at NASA posing as a documentary film crew. While looking for a soviet mole these two agents, Owen Williams and Matt Johnson played by Owen Williams and Matt Johnson respectively, uncover one of America’s biggest secrets: not having the technology to go to the moon. These agents take this problem into their own hands and decide to create fake moon landing footage, that NASA can then use to fool the soviets and the world.
Much like The Dirties, Operation Avalanche is absolutely hilarious. The key difference however is that I wasn’t too emotionally scarred to laugh during Operation Avalanche. The humour is once again what I would call semi absurdist with the characters not being stupid, but not being brilliant either. The subject matter in Operation Avalanche is a lot lighter than that of The Dirties so you do get a lot of moments to take a breath and enjoy a nice laugh, but what I loved about Operation Avalanche is that despite the comedy it didn’t throw drama out the window. The entirety of Operation Avalanche has an unknown threat behind every corner. You have this feeling that things aren’t quite right, but much like a good magician Operation Avalanche distracts you from those thoughts with more jokes. What happens at the end of the movie is the jokes stop, and you are left with the threat that you’ve been anticipating the whole time; and it is intense. I definitely don’t want to spoil Operation Avalanche, but I will say that the entire end portion of the movie (probably the last 30 or so minutes) turns what was a light hearted period piece into a terrifying thriller. And speaking of period piece, I was consistently surprised with just how accurate this movie was. Now I wasn’t alive during this time period, and I’m not really a historian but from what I’ve from pictures of the time Operation Avalanche nailed it. I also really liked that, despite the film taking place in the 60’s the filming style was not unlike any YouTube vlogger today. What really surprised me was the attention to detail with a few movie references (I realized that what I was about to say would have been a spoiler. That was a close one).
Keeping with this theme I also appreciated how realistic the tech of the time was. They used and discussed filming methods that were revolutionary at the time, and I really liked that. It also made sense within the context of the film because they were trying to be as cutting edge as possible. I was also surprised with a few scenes with special effects (I guess you could call home that). It’s really hard for me to talk about this without spoiling it, so I’m just going to move on. Operation Avalanche also brings back the brilliant performances from The Dirties, many actors actually appearing in both films. Now the characters in Operation Avalanche do feel less real than The Dirties, but I think that’s only because I’m so removed from the time period. The Dirties felt real because it could have happened yesterday, but Operation Avalanche felt more like a romanticized past. I also appreciate that Matt Johnson likes to keeps his movies consistent, with him being cast as himself in every one. But I also like that each of his movies have these meta jokes, usually where the character is making the movie that we’re watching. Usually I hate shit like that, but for some reason I loved it in both The Dirties and this. Once again I also really loved the music in Operation Avalanche. I felt it captured both the tone and the time period, and it had a lot of CCR so it’s alright by me.
There really isn’t a lot more I can say about Operation Avalanche without spoiling it so instead I will just say this: If you like period piece movies, go see Operation Avalanche. If you enjoy thrillers, go see Operation Avalanche. If you like alternative history movies, go see Operation Avalanche. If you like comedy, go see Operation Avalanche. If you didn’t fit into any of those categories I would still recommend that you go see Operation Avalanche.
I give Operation Avalanche an A