Review: Point Break
REVIEW: Of all the movies Hollywood’s chosen to remake, POINT BREAK has to be the most confusing example of all. Not only has the original film – only a modest hit in its initial release – gone on to become a huge cult favorite but two of the people involved (Kathryn Bigelow and Keanu Reeves) are even more famous now than they were then. And then there’s the late Patrick Swayze, who was so iconic as the bank-robbing antihero Bodhi in the original that anyone trying to step into his shoes ought to think twice (as did the initially cast Gerard Butler).
Really, the only way POINT BREAK could have worked is if this had been done as a sequel, which could have been interesting with Reeves’ disillusioned Utah now a criminal in the Bodhi-mold. Instead, this is a beat-for-beat remake of the original with the only innovation being that instead of setting it in California’s surfer community the stage has been expanded worldwide with surfing only a minor part of these extreme athletes’ talents.
To be fair to director Ericson Core, some of the stunt footage is excellent. The motorcycle, rock climbing and base jumping footage is well shot minus some obvious CGI manipulation to make it look like the stars are involved with the crazy stunts. However, it’s painfully obvious that Kurt Wimmer’s script has simple been written-around whatever sport they were able to get photography of. The premise here is that Bodhi and his gang are trying to achieve something called the Osaki Eight, which are eight ordeals that are supposed to bring them enlightenment, with their environmentally-concerned heists being a way of paying back the earth for what they take from it. Basically, it’s another quest-style narrative with each subsequent ordeal/mission feeling like another level in a video game, making this horribly by-the-numbers.
Even still, POINT BREAK could have been OK. Core himself was the DP on THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS, which liberally borrowed so much of POINT BREAK’s plot that it could have been called a quasi-remake, and that movie was fine. While Core’s style in pretty blah, with the green-hued visuals being a tad dull (even in 3D), the major problem here is with the actors. Edgar Ramirez can be incredibly effective given the right material, as in Olivier Assayas’ CARLOS or in David O. Russell’s current JOY. Given the thinly written Bodhi, Ramirez doesn’t have the personality to make us forget Swayze’s iconic, likable rogue from the original. Here he feels like a straight-up bad guy as opposed to the conflicted, loyal-but-homicidal figure from the first.
As such, there’s no feeling of loyalty or camaraderie between him and Utah, whose casting is absolutely disastrous with Luke Bracey emerging as one of the dullest screen heroes in recent memory. Bracey is a well-sculpted Aussie heartthrob in the Hemsworth mold, but he has no personality. Anyone who gives Jai Courtney a hard time will think twice after seeing Bracey in this – although how much of this is actually Bracey’s fault is debatable. The idea that Utah was a YouTube star for his extreme stunts and is now training to be an undercover FBI agent is ludicrous. We’re supposed to believe that after a stunt gone awry this guy who never finished high school went on to breeze through law school and FBI training in five years, but Utah never feels intelligent enough to make that believable.
The supporting cast doesn’t fare any better, with Ray Winstone doing a pale imitation of Gary Busey as Pappas (out of the London office). Teresa Palmer is gorgeous but lacks the spunk Lori Petty had in the original (who was a very three-dimensional love interest for her time), and the seduction scene, where they swim underwater in a perfectly lit sea (despite it being the middle of the night) is unintentionally funny.
While I’ll admit that the original POINT BREAK has a special place in my heart due to my having grown up watching it over-and-over (I’ve owned it on VHS,DVD and Blu-ray) I could have liked this remake had it ever seemed like something more than a dull cash-grab. Other than some interesting stunt footage, there’s never any sense of innovation or purpose, and the lead performances are embarrassingly short on charisma. Do yourself a favor – skip the remake and just re-watch the original. You might as well call this one “Point Fake.”
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