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2002 | 1999

2 items from 2002

Extreme Ops

2 December 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Where's Vin Diesel when you need him?

In "Extreme Ops", a pair of snowboarders who have teamed up with a downhill gold medalist to shoot a commercial in the Austrian Alps find themselves having to outmaneuver nasty terrorists in addition to the obligatory avalanche.

It's the kind of stuff that could use a larger-than-life lead, but, given the budget constraints of this German-British co-production, big-ticket talent has had to take a back seat to cost-effective backdrops.

They're in vivid, wind-swept supply here and, in the capable hands of former cinematographer Christian Duguay (the Emmy-nominated director of "Joan of Arc"), the able international cast looks convincingly frostbitten.

But because of a cumbersome script that takes forever to click into gear, too much of the picture ends up getting left out in the cold.

The result, which wasn't screened in advance for critics to file opening-day reviews, won't be drawing a large Thanksgiving weekend crowd, but neither is it a turkey, despite all the extra stuffing.

Determined to please an important Japanese client, a smarmy ad executive (England's Rupert Graves with a very convincing American accent) and a British commercial director (Rufus Sewell) overcome their concept vs. cost differences and agree to make a high-stakes commercial for a new digital video camera involving three expert skiers and a fast-moving avalanche.

With a pair of gonzo snowboarders (Jana Pallaske and Joe Absolom) and a comely gold medalist (Bridgette Wilson-Sampras) in tow, the production sets up camp in an unfinished resort perched on a 12,000-foot mountaintop straddling the border of the former Yugoslavia.

It just so happens that a highly dangerous Serbian war criminal (Klaus Lowitsch) has been taking refuge in the very same spot after having faked his death in a plane crash, and when the crew's cameraman (Devon Sawa) inadvertently shoots footage of the bad guy, all hell breaks loose.

Unfortunately, the script, credited to first-time screenwriter Michael Zaidan, requires the game cast to trudge through an awful lot of exposition before getting to the heart-pounding bits; by the time those more involving action sequences finally arrive, the effectively chilled viewer is too "XXX"hausted to muster up much enthusiasm.


Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures, MDP Worldwide and Diamant Cohen Prods. present an Apollomedia/Extreme Prods. production in association with the Carousel Picture Co.


Director: Christian Duguay

Screenwriter: Michael Zaidan

Story: Timothy Scott Bogart, Mark Mullin

Producers: Moshe Diamant, Mark Mullin

Executive producers: Romain Schroeder, Rudy Cohen, Mark Damon, David Saunders

Director of photography: Hannes Hubach

Production designer: Philip Harrison

Editors: Clive Barrett, Sylvain Lebel

Costume designer: Maria Schicker

Music: Normand Corbeil, Stanislas Syrewicz


Will: Devon Sawa

Chloe: Bridgette Wilson-Sampras

Jeffrey: Rupert Graves

Ian: Rufus Sewell

Mark: Heino Ferch

Silo: Joe Absolom

Kittie: Jana Pallaske

Yana: Liliana Komorowska

Pavle: Klaus Lowitsch

Running time -- 93 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13


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30 August 2002 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

Managing to be nonsensical, shamelessly derivative, leeringly exploitative and fundamentally boring all at the same time, "FearDotCom" is the latest in a wave of grotesquely inept horror pictures that are giving the genre a horrific name.

Directed by William Malone (1999's "House on Haunted Hill" remake) from a script by Josephine Coyle based on a story by producer Moshe Diamant, this U.K./Germany/Luxembourg co-production, which also includes location filming in Montreal, boasts seven executive producers and not one moment of genuine suspense or even a hint of dramatic tension.

There is, however, no shortage of flashing images of screaming, naked women being tortured and mutilated, which the film keeps coming back to at every given opportunity.

The only upside to all of this unpleasantness is, given its Labor Day weekend upload, "FearDotCom" should log a minimal number of hits.

It's generally a good rule of thumb that when an opening segment features a haunted-looking guy (fright flick fave Udo Kier) being hit by a subway train while clutching a book called "The Secret Soul of the Internet," movie magic will unlikely follow.

At least in that respect, the film doesn't disappoint, as brash New York police detective Mike Reilly (Stephen Dorff) joins forces with attractive Department of Health researcher Terry Huston (Natascha McElhone) to figure out why four very different people have died nasty deaths just 48 hours after each logged on to, a live-cam Web site with a virtual hostess who starts off the fun by asking each visitor if they'd like to hurt her.

Letting their curiosity get the best of them, Mike and Terry take the site's bait, meaning they've got just two days to track down a diabolical cyber killer or meet a fate similar to that of the four victims.

Of course, the bigger mystery here is why so many so-called New Yorkers speak with a toned-down but still very noticeable German accents, but that's the least of the picture's problems.

More pronounced problems are the regurgitated stylistic and narrative elements from "The Cell", "Seven" and many other popular genre pieces that the filmmakers have seen fit to haphazardly pile on.

It's also sad to see sturdy actors like Academy Award-nominated Stephen Rea, who plays the sicko villain, willing to taint their reputation for an all-expenses-paid trip to Luxembourg.

Behind-the-scenes contributions don't do much to clear up any of the muddle. Judging from all the darkly photographed scenes, the money they were able to save on illumination was spent on renting those irritating strobe lights.


Warner Bros. Pictures

MDP Worldwide presents an Apollomedia/ Productions/Carousel Film Co. co-production with the support of Film Fund Luxembourg


Director: William Malone

Screenwriter: Josephine Coyle

Story: Moshe Diamant

Producers: Moshe Diamant and Limor Diamant

Executive producers: Elie Samaha, Andrew Stevens, David Saunders, Mark Damon, Rudy Cohen, Frank Hubner, Romain Schroeder

Director of photography: Christian Sebaldt

Production designer: Jerome Latour

Editor: Alan Strachan

Music: Nicholas Pike


Mike Reilly: Stephen Dorff

Terry Huston: Natascha McElhone

Alistair Pratt: Stephen Rea

Polidori: Udo Kier

Denise: Amelia Curtis

Styles: Jeffrey Combs

Running time -- 101 minutes

MPAA rating: R


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2002 | 1999

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