They can fake a lot of things in the movies – they can make us believe that Superman can fly, that there are real dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, and that Harry Potter can wear an invisibility cloak and fight a giant three-headed dog. But they can’t fake coolness. One reason is that part of the definition of being cool is that you don’t notice or care whether you’re cool or not and would never exert any effort to try to pretend to be if you weren’t.
“Extreme Ops” is a movie that is fairly successful at faking some pretty cool stunts but a complete failure at trying to create some pretty cool characters. The premise is an obvious pander to the Hollywood notion of what teenage boys think is cool – a group of hotshot extreme sports superstars go to the Alps to film a television commercial and end up having to escape from a Serbian war criminal. So, basically, what we have is an opportunity for three kinds of stunts: get acquainted with the characters stunts, showing off for each other stunts, and getting away from the bad guy stunts.
In between there is some wisp of a plot about tension between the two partners making the commercial (played by slumming British actors Rupert Graves and Rufus Sewell) and a world champion skier (Bridgitte Wilson-Sampras) who thinks she needs to loosen up a little.
Parents should know that the movie pushes the limits of the PG-13 rating. The characters use the in-movies-only euphemism “freakin’” but their behavior exemplifies the show-me-the-rules-so-I-can-break-them extreme culture it tries to evoke. There is vulgar and crude language, brief nudity, and a same-sex kiss (on a dare). Characters drink (one gets drunk) and smoke. Characters are in extreme peril and there is a lot of shooting, but none of the good guys get badly hurt.
Families who see this movie should talk about how different people have different ideas about risk. What kinds of risks are hard for you, and what kinds are easier? Do you think it is odd that none of the characters in the movie seem to have any idea what is going on in the news?
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy the superb documentary about the origins of the extreme sports culture, “Dogtown and Z-Boys.”