[box cover]

Extreme Ops

Future etymologists certainly will enjoy studying the metamorphosis of the word "extreme," which has been reformatted in recent years. Though this particular adjective conventionally indicates how drastic or intense something is, perhaps Vanilla Ice can be held somewhat accountable for the transmutation (he was, after all, "to the extreme"). What's followed in the rapper's wake are "extreme sports," activities that generally involve competition with the additional component of danger — such things attract folks who willingly risk life and limb, and thus separate themselves from more bourgeois professional athletes. By now, extreme sports have found their way into mainstream films, particularly movies that thrive on precarious stunts (elements that play into the oeuvre of Vin Diesel), and it comes as no surprise that some bright folks in Hollywood conspired to produce a film with the word "extreme" in the title (although why they didn't opt for "Xtreme" is a bit befuddling). Extreme Ops was released in 2002 to a rapid demise at the box office — perhaps because the title offered such a naked appeal to those who like such things, or perhaps because of the fourth-tier cast (Devin Sawa, Rufus Sewell, Bridget Wilson-Sampras), or perhaps because it didn't look good. Indeed, the movie is no hidden gem; it's as ludicrous as the title suggests, but not in the way entertainingly bad movies are. The premise concerns a group of extreme-sports athletes who journey to a remote European village to film a commercial, but end up confronted by a group of terrorists (who are using an abandoned inn as a hideout). However, even though this is the film's hook, it takes over two-thirds of the running-time to pit the extreme-sports enthusiasts vs. the extremists. An opportunity to flesh out the characters? Unfortunately, they're nigh impossible to care about (much of the plot relates to Wilson-Sampras's character, an Olympic skier who has joined the expedition to prove to herself that she can ski for fun). The rest of the picture offers sub-Warren Miller-esque footage of the team practicing. When they're not doing that, they hang out and drink beer — and that isn't particularly extreme at all. Paramount presents Extreme Ops in both anamorphic (2.35:1) and pan-and-scan transfers with audio in either DD 5.1 or Dolby 2.0 Surround. Bonus trailers, keep-case.

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