Point Break (2015)

12/27/2015  By  Jordan Saïd     No comments

Remember that Robocop remake from last year? Neither do I, because it took its distinctive source material and played it so straight that it became boring. The remake offered nothing new and effectively took a few trappings from its inspiration and affixed them to a cookie-cutter narrative.

Ericson Core’s 2015 remake of Point Break does exactly the same thing.

This version has the same basic plot as its 1991 predecessor. Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey), an extreme sports celebrity, quit the business after a tragedy for which he blames himself. Like Keanu’s character, he turns to the FBI. (But unlike 1991, people today could easily hit up Wikipedia and TMZ to learn that some extreme sports celebrity named Johnny Utah quit to enter the FBI, so…) In his first mission, he infiltrates a gang of fellow extreme athletes and bank-robbing eco-terrorists, led by Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez), a Venezuelan buddhist. Out of Bodhi’s clique, Samsara (Teresa Palmer), the token woman, quickly falls for him, and Roach (Clemens Schick) refuses to trust him. Bodhi’s gang seeks to complete the “Osaki 8”—a fictional list of eight extreme stunts that follow the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path—while at the same time robbing American companies and spilling their money all over wherever they go. Along the way, they pull stunts that defy all physics and interest, dotted with them calling each other “bro” and fantasizing about giving back to the earth.

They also stare daggers at anyone who points out that they haven’t released a good album since One Hot Minute.

This film astonishes me in the way it took its inspiration and thoroughly stripped it of the lovable cheesiness that makes the 1991 film so fondly remembered. This film feels like a perfunctory assemblage of parties from the Fast & Furious films (where Core cut his teeth), chase scenes from James Bond movies, and the usual cop movie scènes à faire where the bosses yell at the agent for “getting too close” and becoming “compromised.” The stunt scenes should have made the film, but Core lacks the dynamic style and interest in characterization of his predecessor, Kathryn Bigelow. As such, most of the stunt scenes feel inert and anticlimactic, reminding us that all the flash of a stunt is irrelevant if you can’t make us care about the person doing it. “The person did the stunt. Good job, stunt double!”

Both characters survive. Presumably, so did the stunt doubles playing them.

The lack of characterization tanks the film. Bodhi and his gang all look and feel like one character, mentally indistinguishable until they started dying halfway through. In interviews, Palmer has described her character, Utah’s love interest, as “very deeply rooted in her spirituality” and said that “these men look to her for answers.” We see none of that whatsoever. She just spends most of the film hitting on Utah until the script eventually discards her. Samsara mostly stands out by looking and talking like one of those trust-fund college students who become fake hippies out of boredom. (I could smell the patchouli.)

Samsara thanks Buddha for this bounty and for Incubus still touring.

In fact, most of the dialog consists of pseudo-zen platitudes, fatuous exposition, and the FBI periodically wringing their hands over Johnny Utah not doing his damn job. Ray Winstone and Delroy Lindo play Utah’s FBI contacts, who spend the entire movie bawling Utah out while at the same time never asking themselves why they deployed a rookie sports star to singlehandedly take down a gang of people who travel the world doing extreme sport robberies. Incidentally, the movie somehow managed to make everything in that last sentence incredibly boring, an achievement of incompetence that I almost admire.

As the guy who writes Turban Decay, I also have to mention Pascual Al Fariq, the Arab financier of Bodhi’s gang, played by Nikolai Kinski. Most of the film jumps between lavish parties thrown by this Al Fariq. One literally happens right next to a minor character’s funeral! In the usual Arab-in-film tradition, we see an Arab played by a non-Arab. The character exists as a convenient cliché to plug a hole in the narrative: an ultra-rich Arab who just throws money at these extreme athletes to commit crimes, because why not? Of course, his bank-robbing employees badmouth him behind his back, pointing out that he embodies the system they secretly rail against. But this thread of tactical hypocrisy fizzles as quickly as it gets brought up, and the Arab played by the French-born actor soon pulls a French exit from the story entirely.

This Point Break contains just enough nods to the original Point Break to make it incredibly predictable. If you’ve seen the first movie, you’ll figure out how this one ends an hour or more in advance… and then, if you review movies on the Internet, you’ll realize that you have to sit there and wait until it happens. The film still has a president-mask bank robbery scene, but this one looks much more mundane. This remake even reenacts the famous Keanu-Reeves-shooting-into-the-air scene, but since this film utterly fails to sell the genuine friendship between Utah and Bodhi, where the first one came off as endearingly melodramatic, this one just leaves the viewer scratching their head and saying, “Why the hell did he do that?!”

A robber prepares to cut loose more money than this film will make.

So then, if you’ve seen the original Point Break, you’ve seen everything this film has to offer. Just rent the 1991 movie and some of Roger Moore’s Bond flicks, then replace all the dialog with those memes your pothead friends won’t stop sharing on Facebook.

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Obnoxiously Gratuitous Overuse of the Word "Bro"

About Jordan Saïd


Jordan Saïd does mathematics by day and writes for Front Row Central and Turban Decay by night (and weekend). He specializes in American road films, kung fu cinema, and camp (the aesthetic, not the wilderness). He lives in Eastern Washington with five cats.

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