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In this remake of the 1991 cult classic, director Ericson Core tries to raise the stakes but the end result is disappointing and unrewarding.

 

Point Break, originally starring Keanu Reeves as FBI agent Jonny Utah and a shaggy-haired Patrick Swayze as free-spirited Bodhi, gets a remake that doesn’t do the original justice; which, is saying something, since the original didn’t exactly leave the most lasting impression. Core’s vision is unclear from the very start and the result unsatisfying and somewhat baffling.

Utah, played this time around by Luke Bracey, is an ex-extreme poly athlete. He abandoned that career after an accident involving one of his close friends. Seven years later, he inexplicably finds himself gung-ho to join the F.B.I, telling his potential boss (Delroy Lindo) that he “wants this,” sitting across from him wearing a flannel, showing tattooed knuckles, and giving a fierce look. Instructor Hall isn’t so sure and tells him that he has to prove it.

Johnny gets wind of some eco-terrorists committing crimes in a Robin Hood-esque fashion (they shower a small village with cash they liberate from an airplane) and then executing death defying stunts. He does some research and comes to the conclusion that these guys are trying to complete the “Ozaki 8.” This is a series of 8 trials, none of which anyone has ever completed and, supposedly, Ozaki himself dies trying. These trials are meant to honor the earth, and to give back what has been taken. True to the original, Johnny decides to infiltrate the group and uncover their next move, with a little guidance from Angelo Pappas (Ray Winstone), who does nothing like what zany Gary Busey did for the character.

Enter Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez). He soulful-eyed leader of the gang, and spends most of the movie spouting his philosophies with morbid sincerity, and to some degree, Utah falls right in and gets attached to the ideals, and to Bodhi.

These elements all fit the basic structure of the original, but most of the similarities, and what made the original watchable, end there. Dizzying stunt scenes in beautiful locales across the globe seem to dominate here, edging out story and plot for importance. Not to say that the stunts weren’t terrifying impressive, especially the snowboarding down dangerous cliffs, the big-wave surfing, or flying through mountain valleys and crevices in wingsuits. But these montages linger and, when they end, the film loses its purpose all over again.

That is to say, whatever purpose it was trying to achieve, which seemed like trying to infuse as much adrenaline in there as possible. That being said, what ultimately stifled the film was the lack of character development. In Kathryn Bigelow’s version, you cared about charismatic Bodhi, even though he liked to rob banks for the thrill of it, and his decisions wound up killing all of his friends. Even so, there was a connection, and his actions made sense; he made for a compelling character, minus his forced usage of the word “brah.” Adrenaline and action scenes were only part of the package, and underneath was a story that hinted at psychological complexity. When we want to care for the characters in this version, it’s almost impossible, and big choices made don’t make any sense, and are surprising only in a “what just happened,” sort of way.

This is mostly noticeable with Bracey’s character. He makes all of these decisions, but we have no idea of his motivation, his reasoning, his wants, or anything other than he has great abs and sweet tats. The breaking point (ha) comes at the end of the film. He’s confronted with a choice, and even though it’s predictable that he is going to do it, it made zero sense. An example of this can also be found in Samsara (Teresa Palmer), a floaty, groupie-type whose reason for inclusion in this group of people is never explained thoroughly, and the barely-there romance she has with Utah is underwritten and almost unnecessary for all the importance it had in the plot. We only get the tiniest of backstory from her, so all she does throughout the movie is basically smile and parrot back some of Bodhi’s ideals.

Point Break could have easily stood on its own had it thought more about what the heart of the story truly is, and not about how sweet it’s going to look to send four dudes cascading over mountain tops in colorful wingsuits. It would have made more sense if it did try to be its own entity, without taking bits and pieces of the original and not knowing how to use them or fit them in, like the scene where Johnny can’t catch Bodhi and he screams while firing his gun into the air. When Keanu Reeves did it, it was because his old football injury came back during the chase and caused him to lose his quarry, resulting in a lot of frustration in the moment. When done by Bracey, it seemed only to serve the purpose of reminding you that they didn’t forget that this is a remake.

Thrilling at times, yes, but it looks like almost the entire budget was spent on these stunts, and the big finale of a scene used a green screen to its fullest potential. Suspending belief was hard for 90 percent of the film, and this was the breaking point (sorry). If you have seen the original, then just know that after this scene, the ride is almost over.

And what a dull, confusing ride. Kudos to Ramirez and Bracey for being young and good-looking, and for doing the best that they really could with what they were given. And try watching the original, for nothing if not to watch a young and cocky Keanu strut around while Gary Busey eats meatball subs. Two of them.

 

Directed By: Ericson Core

Produced By: John Baldecchi, Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove, Christopher Taylor, David Valdes, Kurt Wimmer

Written By: Kurt Wimmer

Starring: Edgar Ramirez, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Delroy Lindo, Ray Winstone

Distributed By: Warner Bros. Pictures

Release Date: December 25, 2015

Run Time: 113 minutes

Rating: PG-13

 

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