Point Break (2015) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: Rated PG-13 for violence, thematic material involving perilous activity, some sexuality, language and drug material
Running Time: 113 min.
Cast: Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Delroy Lindo, Teresa Palmer, Ray Winstone, Tobias Santelmann
Small role: James Le Gros, Steve Aoki
Director: Ericson Core
Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer
Review published December 10, 2015
Anytime I would see the trailer for Point Break, my immediate glib response to it would be, "They should just call it 'Point Less.'"
Anyone who has seen Kathryn Bigelow's original action flick from 1991 knows why it has gained a guilty-pleasure cult following over the years: cheesy acting, unintentionally hilarious and oft-quoted dialogue, a silly romance and even sillier bromance, and snicker-worthy, over-the-top action sequences galore. To try to recapture the fun of the original would be like trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice, as very few among the many who love the original film do so because they think it's a genuinely good movie. Besides, Point Break has already been remade in a different form in the equally popular The Fast and the Furious, which also wasn't a great film, but it at least the makers had the intelligence to differentiate it enough (by lifting core ideas without abandon) without begging for comparisons that Point Break fans would scoff at. Even Edgar Wright borrowed large chunks of the film in his semi-spoof of dumb actioners, Hot Fuzz.
Luke Bracey (The Best of Me, November Man) replaces Keanu Reeves in the Johnny Utah role, and part of the problem is that he's a better but blander actor, so silly lines like, "I am an FBI Agent", and the moment when he screams while emptying his firearm into the air in frustration lack the smirk-inducing appeal of seeing Keanu do the same. Utah, in this film, is a former extreme-sports enthusiast and YOLO YouTuber who decided to jump into another career, law enforcement (for reasons unexplained), after he lost a friend hot-dogging off a cliff jump on a motorcycle. Venezuelan-born thespian Edgar Ramirez (Deliver Us from Evil, Wrath of the Titans) tries in vain to fill Patrick Swayze's shoes as Bodhi, the zen-like ringleader of his own extreme sports maniacs, who also might be the ringleader of the band of 'Robin Hoods' who are stealing from wealthy organizations and distributing the cash among the poor in rural communities in various countries around the world. Utah thinks where this globetrotting gang of do-gooding thieves is going to strike next, connecting their activities to something called the "Ozaki Eight", a collection of eight various extreme-sports challenges meant to spiritually honor nature, allowing anyone who passes all eight to achieve the ultimate enlightenment.
All of the joys of the original film are stripped away for 2015's version, except perhaps the goofy dialogue, and the surf movie makes way for other extreme sports, thanks to director Ericson Core (Invincible), who also serves as the film's cinematographer (note: he also was the director of photography on the previous semi-remake, The Fast and the Furious). He's much better at the latter than the former, as the best that this update has to offer comes from the impressively shot footage of such things as mountain snowboarding, BASE jumping, and wingsuit flying on or around some of the world's most breathtaking locales. Kurt Wimmer (Street Kings, Ultraviolet) writes the screenplay, adapting the most well-known beats of the original script, but not really improving on it in any discernible way except to expand the locales beyond the beach to peaks, valleys, and oceans around the world. This is the second straight R-rated early 1990s property that Wimmer has adapted into fairly straightforward PG-13 remakes, after 2012's Total Recall, and in both cases, he fails to understand that people love the movies for their campy qualities.
Truth be told, I didn't like the original Point Break, The Fast and the Furious, or Hot Fuzz, so I knew my chances of coming away liking another variation on the same premise would be infinitesimal. However, while it does benefit from some pretty nifty cinematography, stunts and locale work, 2015's Point Break lacks the fun-factor of the other three works by trying to play things mostly straight, relegating this as only worth watching for extreme sports nuts and 1991 Point Break fanatics those who are insatiably curious. Most other viewers will likely miss out on seeing our heroes and villains who are 'chasing the 8' because they'll likely be busy 'catching some Z's'.
©2015 Vince Leo