Movie Review: “Point Break”

Starring
Luke Bracey, Édgar Ramírez, Teresa Palmer, Ray Winstone, Delroy Lindo
Director
Ericson Core

Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 cult classic “Point Break” has already been remade once before with “The Fast and the Furious” (if not in name, then certainly in spirit), but whereas that film retained many of the key elements that made “Point Break” so enjoyable, the 2015 version – which coincidentally is directed by Ericson Core, the cinematographer on the first “Fast and Furious” – is an overly serious dud. Though replacing Californian surf culture with the high-adrenaline world of extreme sports was a smart choice by writer Kurt Wimmer, the movie is hindered by an overbearing stream of hokey Zen philosophy and a paltry story that cares less about its characters than what cool stunt they get to do next.

Luke Bracey stars as Johnny Utah, an extreme sports poly-athlete who joins the FBI after his best friend dies in a motocross accident. Desperate to prove to his academy instructor (Delroy Lindo) that he’s ready for field duty, Johnny volunteers to go undercover to investigate a gang of fellow extreme athletes posing as modern day Robin Hoods who steal from the rich and give to the poor. Johnny believes that the group, led by the enigmatic Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez), is attempting to complete The Ozaki 8 – a series of trials created to honor the forces of nature and deliver spiritual enlightenment – which they’re using to rationalize their crimes. They don’t view themselves as criminals, but rather as righteous eco-activists who give back to the planet by returning something that was taken from it (like raining diamonds onto the streets of Mumbai) after each death-defying ordeal. But as Johnny’s admiration for Bodhi grows the closer he gets to the idealistic daredevil, he must decide where his true loyalties lie.

This movie is riddled with problems, and Wimmer’s script is at the top of the list. Part of what made the original film successful was the simplicity of its premise; the Ex-Presidents robbed banks to fund an endless summer of surfing and partying – nothing more, nothing less. Wimmer overcomplicates things by turning Bodhi’s crew into eco-warriors fighting for a greater cause. He spends so much time explaining and reiterating all the New Age hipster bullshit that there isn’t room for proper character arcs, instead hopping from one ordeal to the next with little regard for how they get there. Johnny is invited into Bodhi’s inner circle with relative ease, while his eventual betrayal is treated like an afterthought. Furthermore, Johnny’s relationships with Bodhi and the free-spirited Samsara (Teresa Palmer in the Lori Petty role) are so poorly developed that they lack any meaningful connections, which makes certain events in the final act land with a thud instead of having the intended emotional impact.

The acting isn’t much better. Australian import Luke Bracey makes Keanu Reeves look like Laurence Olivier with his wooden performance, while Ramírez’s Bodhi is intriguing but underwritten. The real stars of the movie are the stuntmen, because “Point Break” features several impressive set pieces (from big mountain snowboarding, to wingsuit flying through the Swiss Alps, to free climbing up Angel Falls) that provide some decent thrills. Unfortunately, it’s not enough to rescue the film from its dull, uninspired plotting. Core’s remake is sorely missing the original’s B-movie charm and bromantic chemistry between its leading men, and although it contains a few amusing callbacks (including one that fans of “Hot Fuzz” will enjoy), its biggest mistake was trying to fix what wasn’t broken when it should have doubled down on the things that audiences loved most.

  

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