Paramount // 2003 // 93 Minutes // Rated PG-13
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // May 6th, 2003
Fear is a trigger.
Note to future commercial producers: never shoot your ad hocking mini movie on top of an Austrian cascade when there is a wanted terrorist seeking refuge there. Otherwise, it's a beautiful place to stay. When a film crew compiled of a seasoned director (Rufus Sewell, Dark City), his snotty producer, a cameraman (Devon Sawa, Final Destination), an Olympic gold medalist (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, The Wedding Planner), and two daredevil skiers (the equally bad Joe Absolom and Jana Pallaske) set off to film a new commercial, things heat up on the slopes of an unfinished resort. It seems that the crew is housed in the same complex where a dangerous foreign enemy is hiding out, presumed dead in a plane crash. When the terrorist (I don't recall his name...something with a lot of vowels and double dots over the letters) finds out about the film crew, he suspects they may be CIA attempting to track him down. This then leads to the terrorist's attempts to kill the film crew with a very large helicopter on the side of the mountain. Can the daring film crew escape? Will anyone survive? Do you really give a rip roarin' monkey fart?
For those who always wanted to know what a shoddy version of Cliffhanger might have looked like, here's your chance. Extreme Ops is a head scratching action film that never rises above the level of "extreme" mediocrity. Is it supposed to be a balls out shoot 'em up action flick? An extreme sports movie? A little of both? Any way you slice it, Extreme Ops doesn't hit any of its intended targets -- the film is a loud, jumbled mess of footage featuring skiers, snowboarders, and helicopters flying overhead for no apparent reason other than they can. That's all well and good if it's combined with an intriguing story or good characterization. Unfortunately, Extreme Ops has none of those qualities -- the characters include interchangeably hip youngsters and snarling foreign villains who are bald and curse a lot. A bland Bridgette Wilson-Sampras and paunchy Devon Sawa lead the pack, followed by the brooding Rufus Sewell (attempting to treat this material with an air of seriousness) and a couple of obnoxious snowboarders who sport the personalities of twice baked ham hocks. Looking at the DVD cover -- featuring a snowboarder running from a guy with an automatic in a helicopter -- you may think you're in for some explosive action. Don't be fooled: more than an HOUR into the film (and a very long hour it is) is when the actual action begins, leaving only a mere 25 minutes or so for anything remotely interesting to happen...and to no one's surprise, it doesn't. The rest of the film is made up of the flaccid characters talking about the commercial they're shooting, how to gain certain shots, and then scenes of them racing down the hills. And when exactly was general downhill skiing and snowboarding considered an "extreme" sport? The effects are better than I expected, but when placed inside a banal story they end up feeling empty. This was all done much better in the Chris O'Donnell flick Vertical Limit, as well as numerous other cinematic winter bonanzas. Be a good sport and rent the far better and funnier skiing comedy Out Cold instead of this snooze inducing dud.
Extreme Ops is presented in an attractive looking 2.35:1 widescreen transfer, enhanced for 16:9 television sets. Whatever you may think of the movie, Paramount has done a fine job of making sure this image is clear of any major debris or imperfections. Aside of the smallest amount of edge enhancement every so often, this transfer appears to be in great shape. The colors and black levels are all solid and dark with flesh tones represented accurately. Also included on this disc is a pan and scan 1.33:1 version of the film, but who really cares? The soundtrack is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround in English, as well as Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround in English and French. The 5.1 mix is good, if not great. There are a fair number of surround sounds and directional effects on this mix, though the dynamic range wasn't quite as intense as I'd expected. Qualms aside, this is a nice soundtrack that should play well on any home theater system. The mix is free and clear of any hiss or distortion. Also included on this disc are English subtitles.
Seeing as Extreme Ops did a swan dive at the box office upon its initial release (in fact, I don't even recall seeing it at my local multiplex), it's no surprise to find this disc void of almost any extra features. Aside of a few non-anamorphic theatrical trailers for various Paramount movies, Extreme Ops is a bare bones release.
Review content copyright © 2003 Patrick Naugle; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2015 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Release Year: 2003
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13
* Bonus Theatreical