Note 1: I am not a diehard fan of the original Kathryn Bigelow cult classic Point Break. I enjoy it; I think it’s super fun and kind of love Patrick Swayze in it, but it isn’t a favorite movie. I can’t even remember the last time I watched it. Note 2: I love watching extreme sports videos. I don’t do them (never, ever would), but I have been known to waste a lot of my YouTube time watching them (not for crashes, I just think they look cool). In fact, I have often planned out gym work-out times so I could watch skiing on their big screen TV. Basically, I was moderately excited to see the Point Break remake and didn’t think it was blaspheme to make. I had heard not-great things, but the trailers made me think, “Hey, at least it looks cool.”
And the truth is, the remake of Point Break does look pretty amazing during the stunts—so amazing in fact, that if you are committed to seeing it, you should probably spend the extra dough and see it in IMAX. The footage they manage to get of extreme sports like cliff diving and snowboarding is pretty darn impressive when on the biggest screen you can find. Those scenes, especially the sense that some of these stunts are real, make the movie thrilling for a few moments … and then you get back to plot and characters, which are mind-numbing, and start thinking, “I wish they had their helmets on and were doing more cool stuff like before.”
The amazing thing about Point Break is, considering this is a remake of a movie with a pretty silly plot, they do make the effort to change a couple things up—kind of a fresh coat of paint. Bodhi is still mister philosopher, this time an eco-terrorist, and Johnny Utah (now a nickname) is an ex-extreme sports athlete, so he’s kind of known within the group of “outlaws.” The romantic interest is significantly different, although I definitely prefer Lori Petty’s surf instructor to Teresa Palmer’s less-than-engaging almost-groupie—not terrible, just less interesting. Hey, it isn’t a paint by numbers remake; it’s probably even more original than Star Wars: The Force Awakens was compared to Star Wars: A New Hope.
But the thing The Force Awakens has that Point Break lacks and so desperately needs is that adrenaline-pumping sense of fun. Sitting in a theater, I don’t think I heard a single person laugh the entire movie, even just at some of the nonsense. Repetitiveness and even flaws can be hidden pretty well when your movie has that childlike moviegoing enthusiasm that makes these admittedly silly movies work. It’s pumping you up to just enjoy a well-executed MOVIE. Point Break, the 1991 flick, didn’t succeed because of the surfing and bank robbing; that had been in a lot of movies. It succeeded because it roped you in quickly and took you on a fun ride with one of the most enjoyable characters leading the way.
Say what you will about Patrick Swayze in other less memorable movies that followed, but he is a damn delight in Point Break and makes the movie completely watchable. He’s charming, weird, and delivers some philosophical nonsense with the conviction of Yoda. He was super fun to watch as Bodhi. Édgar Ramírez’s Bodhi … not so much. It’s strange, because I saw this movie right after seeing him in Joy, and while in a smaller part, I found him far more watchable in that (not great movie either) than he was in this, despite what is called of him. This Bodhi lacks something, so you immediately start thinking that a lot of what he’s talking about makes NO SENSE—not in the philosophical, “You don’t agree with these criminals, but they have a code,” way. There’s nonsense dialogue that I don’t think makes logical sense spoken by Bodhi in this version, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed in a lighter, higher energy movie.
As for our new Johnny Utah, he doesn’t really register on screen as a hero. Luke Bracey has nice on-screen presence, and I remember thinking after seeing The Best of Me last year (and immediately falling down a flight of stairs), “That kid did a fine job in a bad movie.” Once again, he does a fine job with a pretty bland character, considering, but I think he comes out the best of the group of actors because there’s at least some empathy for the character. Although chemistry wise, Bracey and Ramirez are severely lacking. The crew are almost impossible to differentiate and barely have their own personalities, with one notable exception, which is too bad, considering they had a chance to flesh them out from the first, and Ray Winstone just isn’t on the level of weird that Gary Busey was in his all-too-memorable role as Utah’s partner.
The amazing thing is, even with the inclusion of more action sequences and a variety of them in this movie compared to the first (they really tried to go XXTREME with this one), the directing seems completely uninspired. Ericson Core always seems to go for the most cliché, almost dull directorial choices from on the noisy musical choices to the editing that lacks any rhythm and the way action sequences are incorporated (Kurt Wimmer’s script is also pretty poor). I have to say, the action shoot-out in this movie doesn’t work as all here and feels like it was filmed for a different movie; as if they were forced to put in a scene they didn’t want in this version. There seems to have been a lot of checking of boxes that were based on cliché choices about what they need to do to justify this remake, which might have been okay if everyone were a little more excited to be there and seemed to be having a little more fun on-screen.
I’m not saying they should laugh through a scene like Adam Sandler and completely break character. We know that even in comedies, characters have to play ridiculous situations seriously, but there’s a style of B-movie acting that works in some of these movies. Everyone needed to take a lesson from Oscar Isaac and Jason Statham and Tom Hiddleston on playing up a character without giving up. Everyone here confuses commitment with being far too serious and even kind of somber in their performances. Going a little bigger in this movie might have actually covered up some of the flaws.
Oddly, my impression of this movie is probably hurt by another movie franchise we had out last year: the Fast and Furious movies. If you think back to the first in those seven movies, it’s kind of just a Point Break remake, too, and it knew how to tap into the spirit of what made that first movie work so well. Sure they’ve gotten sillier, but I had a lot more fun at all those movies than I did at Point Break, despite being more impressed by the stunt work in Point Break. Again, the stunt work and photography in this movie is AMAZING and made me glad that I saw it in a theater, despite everything. Actually, it had me leaving the theater thinking that I would have really liked watching a documentary about these sports (something like Sunshine Superman or Endless Summer) on an IMAX more than this fictional movie. At least I might care more about what happens.
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