Point Break, 2016.
Directed by Ericson Core.
Starring Édgar Ramírez, Luke Bracey, Ray Winstone, Teresa Palmer and Delroy Lindo.
A young FBI agent infiltrates a group of athletes he believes is responsible for a series of intricate robberies around the world.
Many of us have fond memories of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 thriller-slash-bromance (not least Edgar Wright, who lovingly lampooned it in 2007’s Hot Fuzz), but it’s hard to imagine this uninspired remake evoking that same sense of nostalgia for anyone in 15 years time. Admittedly, if you’re looking for a slice of disposable Friday night entertainment, you could do a lot worse, but if you’re looking for anything more substantial or satisfying than that, you will be left disappointed.
While this remake mostly sticks to the arc of the original film, there are a few minor tweaks. In this film, Johnny Utah starts off as an extreme sports athlete, but turns his back on that world after a tragic accident. Soon after joining the FBI he develops a theory that a group of thieves are committing crimes as part of a quest called ‘The Ozaki Eight’, a series of death-defying feats intended to pay tribute to the forces of nature by pushing the limits of physical endurance. Charged with finding evidence to support this theory, he follows the group – led by leader Bhodi – across the globe, and joins in their stunts in an attempt to win their trust. Unlike the original, which dealt mainly with surfing and skydiving, this film features a greater range of stunts, including snowboarding, wingsuit-flying and (for some reason), two minutes of Fight Club-style bare-knuckle brawling.
The film’s problems start with the cast. Even his biggest fans will admit that acting has never been Keanu Reeves’ strength, but he was at least charismatic as Utah, which newcomer Luke Bracey sadly is not (there’s a shot where he walks towards the camera into focus after exiting a cable car, and the sheer blankness of his expression nearly made me laugh out loud!) Similarly, Édgar Ramírez displays none of the charm that made Patrick Swayze’s Bhodi so endearing – hell, Swayze was so lovable he actually managed to talk about the ‘spirituality’ of surfing without making you want to slap him! Supporting cast members are wasted – Delroy Lindo is only in handful of scenes, Ray Winstone has an annoying habit of saying one word per sentence in an American accent, and Teresa Palmer is stuck with the tired role of ‘hippie chick who sleeps with the main character then dies’.
One thing this film has going for it are the stunts – you can tell the film-makers went to a lot of effort to seek out some of the top extreme-sports athletes in the world for the set pieces, and for the most part they are indeed thrilling. However, for safety’s sake, the stunt performers are nearly always wearing helmets, which means there’s rarely any emotional connection made between the characters and the amazing feats on-screen (and in the surfing scenes, the actor’s faces are clumsily pasted onto the stuntmen’s heads using CGI). One exception is a well-staged and vertiginous climb up the face of Angel Falls, which is the film’s highlight (although would it have killed them to have the characters look even slightly scared even ONCE while they were climbing it?)
Sadly, impressive stunts alone cannot carry a film. Even if you’ve never seen the original, the plot ‘twists’ are easy to see coming, and the characters just aren’t engaging or memorable enough to make you overlook this (after one of the thieves dies I learned that apparently his name was ‘Chowder’ – I didn’t recall hearing that incredibly unusual name even once before that point). And although the film-makers avoided CGI (for the most part), the final scene is literally awash with it, ending the film on a very damp, flat note.
This is a remake that doesn’t disgrace the legacy of the original; it makes you appreciate the original even more. It also makes you yearn for a time when two guys running through backyards was all a talented director needed to create a thrilling sequence.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★