“Extreme Ops” is all downhill

Extreme Ops

By Jae-Ha Kim
Chicago Sun-Times
November 28, 2002

1.5 stars

Dude, where’s my avalanche?

That may as well have been the mantra for “Extreme Ops,” a film that unsuccessfully tries to infuse an espionage plot into a snowboarder movie.

A film crew promises a client it will produce a spectacular stunt that has never before been attempted: A group of extreme athletes will try to outrun an avalanche. The athletes include a pair of punky snowboarders and a foxy downhill gold medalist out to prove she’s got enough moxie to tackle a treacherous course that hasn’t been prepped for competition.

The enjoyment of films such as this is heightened if you suspend your belief in reality. So, I’ll pretend the director would laugh off the snowboarders’ drunken stunts that could shut down the expensive shoot. Or that he could possibly capture the perfect shot while fleeing not only from armed terrorists but a thundering avalanche, as well.

But do you really expect the audience to believe the world-class athlete’s coach and agent would allow their cash cow to put herself in such a dangerous situation? Nope. Sorry. Doesn’t work.

The actors are likable and they, along with the amazing footage of the stunt doubles and the landscape, are the only things to recommend about this film. The plot is ridiculous and just gets in the way of the awesome stunts.

As Chloe, the skier with something to prove, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras adds some humor to her stick-in-the-mud role. Lacking confidence, she is told, “Let the mountain tell you what to do.”

Duh. It’s telling her to get off it. Fast.

Spunky Jana Pallaske (Kittie)–who looks like Natalie Imbruglia with a major collagen injection–exudes nice grrrl power attitude. And Devon Sawa (Will) is subtle–or as subtle as you can get in this genre–as the videocam operator who’ll go to all measures to get that perfect shot.

There are plenty of unintentionally funny moments. When a terrorist mistakenly assumes the women are CIA operatives, he intimidates them with threats of death. Oh, and yes, he’d like to see the two women kiss each other.

Accused of being a sick freak, he gleefully responds, “Sick freak … with a rifle.”

Apparently, even terrorists are horny.

One of the reasons people watch extreme sports is the thrill of the unexpected. The same can’t be said about this film. We know exactly where it’s headed and, unfortunately, the journey doesn’t pay off.

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