Monday, January 17, 2011

A Decade of Dreck #40: Extreme Ops

Charge Shot!!! is celebrating the end of the decade in the most masochistic way we know how - by watching and writing about the 100 worst movies of the last ten years as defined by film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Click here to see RT's complete list, click here for more information about the Decade of Dreck project, and click here to see all of the movies we've done so far.

One of my favorite parts of this epic project is the chance to go back and look at the first decade of the Twenty-First Century and trace the rise and fall of certain trends and stars. It's always interesting to see the precise time where a fad wore out its welcome or an actor or actress went from the top of the world to a punchline. The Decade of Dreck is in its own small way a brilliant chronicle of the first ten years of the new millennium.

Then again, there are movies like Extreme Ops: films nobody saw or cared about, one's that might present a "That?" or "Are you sure you're not talking about Torque?" These are the movies that were released to precisely zero fanfare and in our current, more civilized age might have been released straight to DVD, unseen by vicious critics.

Why would you have seen Extreme Ops? Was it showing at the dollar theater and you needed to kill time during your layover in Denver? Were you babysitting a young cousin obsessed with snowboarding? Are you just a Rufus Sewell completist? Truly, unless you had committed yourself to undertaking a quixotic quest for your college buddies' pop culture blog, you would probably never know of its existence. Lord knows I didn't.
Extreme Ops follows a team of extreme operators in their extreme adventures. While making a commercial for some sort of product (it's never really made clear what it is, though it is Japanese) in the Austrian alps, a group of daredevils encounter a fugitive Serbian war criminal and his henchmen who promptly set out to eliminate the extremists. Can snowboards overcome AK-47s? I really wish they couldn't because a movie where a bunch of asshole extreme kids get murdered by evil Yugoslavians might have been pretty cool.

I'm fast developing into an old curmudgeon, so I was immediately put off by our heroes' constant use of cliches regarding thrill-seeking, adrenaline rushes, and the like; the human mind can only take so many instances of spiky-haired imbeciles telling squares how cool it is to skydive or whatever. I myself had a skateboarding phase, but even back then I realized that if you were one of those people who spent all their free time going on about how you "live on the edge" or some shit you were a doofus.

Remember those guys in Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle? The ones who kept yelling "EXTREME!" and drank Mountain Dew and tried to do stupid tricks like kayaking through the convenience store and generally upsetting the Hero's Journey of the protagonists? Imagine they got their own action movie.

The stunts in this movie, going off big jumps and whatnot, might have been impressive in the early days of extreme sports, but even by 2002 I'm sure they were overexposed. Oh? You can do a Thingy off that mound of snow over there? Great, let's put a CGI avalanche behind you and call it a major motion picture.

Was there anything worthwhile in this film for me? Can an hour and a half of tired stock characters, terrible pacing (the bad guys don't show up until over halfway through the movie), and lame action do anything to make me feel in the least bit happy? Well, Bridgette Wilson is in this movie as an Olympic skier who learns to be extreme. It's nice to know that Veronica Vaughn/Sonya Blade is still out there I suppose. Yeah, that kind of made my day.

Extreme Ops is ranked #81 on the Rotten Tomatoes Worst 100 list with 6% freshness. Its RT page can be found here.