Christian Duguay’s “Extreme Ops”, despite the unfortunate title, is not as bad as it could have been. Which isn’t to say it’s especially good, but I had expected worst from a movie advertised as being another Hollywood attempt to cash in on the extreme sports trend currently sweeping across lalaland like a snowy mountain avalanche trying to swallow up a faceless stuntman. Speaking of which, extreme sports stunt people must be getting tons of work right now, since it seems as if 1 out of every 4 movie coming out of Hollywood right now throws in at least one gratuitous extreme sport into the mix.
“Extreme Ops” stars Devon Sawa (“Final Destination”), looking extremely out of shape and sporting some absurd facial hair, as Will, one of advertising filmmaker Ian’s crew. Ian (Rufus Sewell) runs the creative side of the ad company, while Ugly American Jeffrey (Rupert Graves, sounding very British) handles the business end. While trying to finish up the shoot for an ad, Ian packs up Will, cameraman Mark (Heino Ferch), and extreme sportsmen Kittie (Jana Pallaske) and Silo (Joe Absolom) for a trip to the Austrian mountains. Also along for the ride is championship skier Chloe (Bridgette Wilson), the latest actor in Jeffrey’s sexual fantasies.
Up in the mountains, Will accidentally videotapes a Serbian war criminal thought dead in a plane crash but is instead making out with his mistress at the same unfinished mountain hotel that the ad people are staying in. Actually “Extreme Ops”, proving the name very unfortunate indeed, doesn’t bother with the Serbian war criminal until almost near the hour mark, when the Serbian sends his flunkies to silence the ad people.
In the first 60 minutes leading up to the action sequences shown in the trailer, “Extreme Ops” looks more like a TV show about pretty people working in the extreme sports business. There’s Jeffrey and Ian’s constant bickering about the business; Will’s childish infatuation with hottie snowboarder Kittie; and blonde and pretty Chloe’s self-doubts about her ability as an athlete, not to mention Ian’s growing attraction to her. The one character that appears often in the movie, but seems to be completely ignored by the script, is Heino Ferch’s Mark. For some reason he’s in almost every scene, and yet we know nothing about him except that he likes telling penis jokes about Ugly American Jeffrey.
If you like lots of scenes of people doing extreme sports stuff, then “Extreme Ops” is for you. I was not a big fan of extreme sports when they based an entire movie around it (“XXX”) or when a teenage James Bond was doing it (“Agent Cody Banks”), and I don’t particularly care for it here. Nothing against the sport itself, but how many scenes of stunt people snowboarding down a white mountain can you possibly stand before you start wondering when those evil Serbian war criminals are finally going to make an entrance?
Christian Duguay (“Screamers”) keeps the movie moving well enough that it never gets bogged down. Whenever the film starts to lag, one of the kids jump on a skateboard and do groovy tricks. Bridgett Wilson (“Buying the Cow”) is easy on the eyes and her character is vulnerable, while Rufus Sewell (“Dark City”) seems to be taking the whole thing too seriously. On the other hand, headliner Devon Sawa needs to get in shape if he wants to continue being a leading man.
“Extreme Ops” could have been much worst. It’s not so great as it stands right now, and the whole Serbian angle could have come in much, much sooner, but at least the film isn’t a complete waste.
Christian Duguay (director) / Timothy Scott Bogart, Mark Mullin, Michael Zaidan (screenplay)
CAST: Devon Sawa …. Will Flaky
Bridgette Wilson …. Chloe Weston
Rupert Graves …. Jeffrey
Rufus Sewell …. Ian Fintach