Directed by: Christian Duguay
Starring: Rufus Sewell, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Devon Sawa, Rupert Graves, Joe Absolom
When bad movies happen to good people is the order of the day for Rufus Sewell and Rupert Graves in Extreme Ops -- a movie so extremely awful that it's actually pretty damn funny.
Remember when Sewell was in movies like A Man of No Importance and Carrington -- or even when he played the nasty villain in A Knight's Tale? Remember Rupert Graves as Scudder in Maurice? Well, treasure those memories, because you'll need them to slog your way through what they have to endure here.
Despite bearing the mainstream Paramount imprint, Extreme Ops is a bargain-basement European pickup. What's hard to understand is why anybody picked it up. Wiser souls would have tactfully pretended not to see it and left it lying there. Apart from the above-named actors -- better known to the art-house crowd than to the target audience for a movie about (dear God, not again!) "extreme sports" -- there's nothing going for Extreme Ops other than a large dose of unintentional laughs. I'd almost recommend it on that basis; at least I would if the funny bits weren't sandwiched in between interminable and generally arbitrary extreme-sports sequences (if I wanted to see this stuff, I'd be watching ESPN, not a movie).
Other than a handful of dropped references to a supposedly dead Serbian war criminal, there's really no plot until the second half of the movie. The first half mostly involves the attempts of Sewell and Graves to shoot an extreme-sports commercial in the Alps. It's never made clear why they need to make a commercial involving people skiing in front of an avalanche, nor what it's a commercial for. It hardly matters. The whole point is to get them -- and their crew and the performers -- stuck in an unfinished ski resort where guess who is hiding out. That's right, it's none other than that old war criminal, Slobovan (do his friends call him "Slob?") Pavlov (yep, like the fellow with the salivating dogs), played with ill-tempered guttural nastiness by Klaus Lowitsch (who has understandably announced his retirement from acting).
Slobovan doesn't take kindly to intruders -- especially those who videotape him. Such a thing would ruin his plans. And what plans are those? "If we don't blow up that bank in Amsterdam in the next few days, all this will have been for nothing," he says. Whatever.
So, of course, he decides to kill them all. Well, if we've learned anything about Serbian war criminals in the past few years, it's this: They never manage to hit a damn thing they shoot at. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast doesn't seem to know this, so they try to escape the wily villain -- and a more bizarre escape is hard to imagine. Our heroes also never learned that when you're unarmed and fleeing murderous bad guys, you don't knock one of them out and then leave his gun lying there. The whole thing is cartoonish. Nearly everyone seems to get shot, yet no one seems to suffer from it. Two characters suddenly -- and inexplicably -- are in possession of a rocket launcher. Unfortunately, they must have learned their shooting skills in Serbia, since they, too, miss their target. (In fact, we never see what happens to the rocket, thereby disproving that what goes up must come down.)
In the end, it's all too silly for words, and quite the most remarkable thing is how Sewell manages to hack his way through it without bursting out laughing -- not even when he finds that his Olympic skiing star wears her gold medal wherever she goes (in bed, too?), or when the script has him constantly, "Keep moving!" despite the fact that several of his companions are dangling from bungee cords!
There should be some kind of special Oscar for this.