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  Extreme Ops Ski Party
Year: 2002
Director: Christian Duguay
Stars: Devon Sawa, Bridgette Wilson, Rupert Graves, Rufus Sewell, Heino Ferch, Joe Absolom, Jana Pallaske, Jean-Pierre Castaldi, Liliana Komorowska, Klaus Löwitsch, David Scheller, Detlef Bothe, Heinrich Schmeider, Franjo Marincic, Rade Radovic
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: Jeffrey (Rupert Graves) is a commercials director who has been hired by a technology company from Japan to create an advertisement for their versatile new camera, so to that end has taken his crew to shoot at a high waterfall. However, his assistant Ian (Rufus Sewell) is unimpressed with his management of the production, especially when there's nearly a nasty accident with the kayakers, so he takes the reins and directs this section of the shoot himself. When Jeffrey gets back to the company representative, he is full of apologies about their results, but the executive loves it, and consequently to up the ante they plan to make a new ad involving a European avalanche...

But what's perhaps more important is that there's a Serbian war criminal (Klaus Löwitsch) whose plane has crashed at the location of the ad folks' next destination, as we are told in the opening of Extreme Ops, so could you think this would have some bearing on the business in hand? If you did twig that it did, you would have a long wait for this deceptively non-vital element to become relevant in the movie's final act, as in the interim you were offered what was essentially an extreme sports video that somehow someone had stuck a plot onto and gained a release in the cinemas, featuring some fairly recognisable faces in the cast if nobody absolutely globally stellar. These actors were not the ones performing the skiing and snowboarding, naturally.

That was left to director Christian Duguay's stunt team who took care of the more dangerous stuff, but very few were going to be fooled that, say, Pete Sampras' wife was coursing down the Alpine slopes when it was actually her double who was putting herself in such peril. Yet the whole gossamer premise was difficult to believe when we were asked to accept this Japanese company would risk the lives of those performing in their advert by having them be chased by an avalanche, which may or may not be a feature of certain videos popular with those interested in such activities, but if someone actually died while making a commercial, which was likely, then the resulting publicity would not exactly be benevolent.

But then, Extreme Ops existed in its own la-la-land where the highest aspiration a human being could aim for was to almost get killed for the sake of adrenaline rushes, as summed up by the two professional snowboarders who are recruited to perform and smugly look down on Mrs Sampras for "merely" skiing professionally, as if this is a wussy pastime compared to their actvities. One element that truly grated was that she agreed with this obnoxious pair and tries to live up to their unpleasant and overbearing self-belief, so when the terrorists finally do show up you may well be contemplating uncharitable thoughts about their potential for surviving to see the end credits. We're supposed to find them loveable because they boarded off a roof and smashed onto a bar the night before. You may well have a differing reaction to their very high opinion of themselves.

One aspect this did get right was that the action was half decent, though so desperate to prove itself a practically non-stop white knuckle ride that it was somewhat absurd; OK, not somewhat, it was utterly ridiculous. For that reason the take on this movie has ranged from how entertaining such, er, extremity is to the more prevalent OMFG this is the worst evah and other such observations, so you see the reactions were aptly extreme as well. It was true enough that this straining for cool was less than endearing, indeed it positively grated before the thriller plot eventually got underway, and ostensible lead Devon Sawa was a curious choice since his character came across as less than essential to the outcome, or at least the scenes leading up to it. The scenery was nice enough, but if you thought that once you had seen one stunt person zooming down a blindingly white mountain you had more or less seen them all, you would not be a convert to what Extreme Ops served up in its markedly overeager attempts to appear hip and happening, daddy-o. Music by Norman Corbeil and Stanislas Syrewicz.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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