Saturday, 3 October 2009

Extreme Ops (2002)

Director: Christian Duguay

Remember those two Bill and Ted type yahoos in the fluoro-coloured jumpsuits from Cliffhanger who loved to base-jump and said stuff like ‘But we like it extreme!’? The movie, Extreme Ops, would seem manufactured for their benefit since it basically replicates the plot of Die Hard for the zillionth time, but sticks some EXTREME snowboarding footage as a shiny clock-radio addition to the well-worn genre. Basically it’s about a team of thrill-seeking adventurers making a commercial in Austria when, what do you know, they stumble upon a Serb-Croat war criminal long thought dead who has the very convincing name of Slobovan Pavlov. Woah, radical, dudes. Time to hit the slopes and snowboard the fuck out of those awesome mountains before that bogus grey-haired foreign dude shoots us from his helicopter! Make sure that The Crystal Method tune ‘Keep Hope Alive’ is playing non-stop as that is the unofficial theme of EXTREME activities! Yes, Extreme Ops is the type of movie where no-one can enter a scene without doing something EXTREME and having some observer provide the time-honoured punch-line, “You guys are crazy!” Y’all, woo-hoo and shit, yeah! Unfortunately, those EXTREME-loving comic-relief dudes from Cliffhanger would find Extreme Ops kind of boring with the plodding two-thirds of narrative it spends on plot and would throw on a DVD of Best of Blizzard Base Jumping Action Vol. 4 instead.

So, our heroes are people who make commercials (advertisers are hip!) and they are over a barrel trying to film an advertisement for a digital camera; their investors are naturally inscrutable Japanese stereotypes. There’s British actor Rufus Sewell as the cool-headed director who knows how to get the right shot of a white water rafting consumer throwing a digital camera in the air. How cool-headed is this guy? He’s trying to converse with an estranged off-screen girlfriend on the phone while he sits in a canoe hanging precariously from a steep waterfall, telling her, “Yeah, I’m just hanging around.” EXTREME. Then there’s his trusty lieutenant played by former teen heartthrob Devon Sawa who looks really bloated and is inflicted with that dreaded disease known as Stephen Baldwin Hair (definition: frosted blonde tips in a short doofus cut). Then finally another British actor Rupert Graves with a fucking awful American accent playing a phoney producer who promises to his investors that their rad ad will be even more EXTREME with a real shot of a consumer racing an avalanche! Graves blurts this out in a boardroom meeting, which pisses off Sewell and so he and Sawa dangle him from a rooftop by his ankles to teach him a lesson. EXTREME and COMICAL. Oh yeah, I forgot there’s a tough-guy German dude played by Heino Ferch (he played Albert Speer in Downfall) and he gets to say the line, “I’m German. I’m never comfortable.”

Skip to them assembling some more EXTREME nitwits to help them film their ad. There’s a hot Beatrice Dalle punk-rocker chick played by the attractive Jana Pallaske whose voice sounds dubbed throughout and is so hot that even her pants break apart during EXTREME scenes of action tension later in the piece, so we can have some skin amidst all the snow (Thanks, Hollywood!). There’s also Bridgette Wilson Sampras (she played Sonja Blade in Mortal Kombat) and she plays a Champion Skier who won a Gold Medal in the World Games and her boring character motivation is that she’s bummed out that she can’t be as EXTREME as everyone else. She has a deep and meaningful conversation later on where she admits this: ‘I thought for once in my life... I could ski for fun.’ The punk-rock chick tells her, ‘Let the mountain tell you what to do.’ Seriously we should have heard the off-screen cry of a distant eagle during that moment of motivational inspiration. But my favourite is Silo (Joe Absolom) who has the most EXTREME introduction shot where we see him skateboarding on top of a moving train... just for fun! Then if that wasn’t enough to make you understand how radical he is, we have another scene where the crew wait around for him in an airport. ‘Where’s Silo?’ There he is skating through the airport like a dick and then cut to a close-up of him with the wisecrack, ‘Wassup, bitches?’ SILO 4 PRESIDENT OF RADITUDE!

I’m spending too much time on these characters, let’s fast forward to the plot where they stay at a half-built mountain-top resort after Silo and the Punk Rock Chick get them all thrown out of their hotels for snowboarding off a roof, down a bar of flaming alcoholic shooters and then through the hotel window. Sawa starts filming things left and right with a video camera, even when he and the girls hit the spa with some beers and some zany Truth and Dare games, providing some lowbrow titillation when he dares the two girls to kiss each other! EXTREME and TASTEFULLY DONE! So, then, they cross paths with this Slobovan Pavlov and Sawa accidentally films him and then Pavlov finds out. He wants that footage proving his alive since the world thinks he died in a plane crash and so he sends his creepy son to kill them, but he fucks it up by being a sleazebag who wants to see the two girls kiss again and he gets killed in a Reservoir Dogs type standoff with his henchman who objects to all this mucking about, “I’m a soldier, dammit!” So, yeah, they shoot each other and Pavlov thinks the American commercial film crew are CIA and then you can cut to the last half hour, which is a long chase scene basically where our heroes snowboard down the mountain while Pavlov tries to shoot them all. THESE GUYS ARE SKIING FOR THEIR LIVES. By this time, I was pretty bored watching Extreme Ops and the only moment of interest was the lame moment when Devon Sawa cracks onto the punk-rock chick while they are hanging off a cliff with the terrorist shooting at them: “Does this mean you’ll go out with me now?” Yes, comedy is still able to scale these high altitudes, particularly with my favourite exchange earlier in the piece:

Graves: ‘Nice Austrian trailerpark.’
Punk Rock Chick: ‘G’day, mate!’
Silo: ‘Put another shrimp on the barbie!’
Bridgette Wilson-Sampras: ‘He said, “Austrian, not AUSTRALIAN”’

Zing! Never forget to underline a joke – people’s minds are too busy being blown by these thrilling stunts, they need reminding of what humour actually is! The tough-guy German throws a cord that twists the helicopter’s motor, killing the terrorists, while Sewell and Wilson-Sampras outrun an avalanche on their skies, finally able to get their advertisement money-shot of her catching a digital video camera. Commercial sold and that’s a wrap. What better way to celebrate than by all skateboarding on top of a moving train! EXTREME... and I don’t mean that band from the 1990s!

Okay, I’m done and now you don’t have to watch this movie.


Jessica McLeod said...

I just read this whole review out loud to Robert! I shouted every word in caps.

Oh, and Robert says 'Sorry.'

Lisa said...

That was an EXTREME read! Thank you.

Robert said...

Wait, actually I say, "You're welcome."

dan said...

brigitte wilson!!! what the HELL