One of my favorite action movies throughout the nineties was Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break, an FBI agent who goes undercover in a group of surfers believed to be notorious bank robbers. The plot was simple and the immediate camaraderie between Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) and Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) was one of the great pairings of the action films in that era. This as also my first look at Bigelow’s filmmaking as I was too young for her previous films Near Dark and Blue Steel. Then the new juggernaut of the remake train came through and scooped this film up and I was understandably worried. Would this be an homage to a film I really enjoyed or a “re-imaging” that would take any of the feeling Bigelow put into this film?
Casting began to get underway. The iconic roles of Bodhi and Johnny would be played by Domino actor Edgar Ramirez and relatively unknown Luke Bracey, who starred alongside Pierce Brosnan in the forgotten The November Man. I was still on the fence. Crazy Gary Busey would be replaced by the all too wrongly used Ray Winstone and Lori Petty’s Tyler would see Theresa Palmer take a reformed version of the role, something that bugged me instantly in the film. The cast was formed and it really looked lackluster, as did the trailer. Heading in, I was skeptical to say the very least.
The new Point Break does still follow Utah’s infiltration of Bodhi’s group who may or may not be criminals. The twist with this new take is the group isn’t a bunch of California surfers but a group of adrenaline seekers looking to complete a series of Zen inspired stunts known as the Ozaki Eight, which honor all the forces of nature. They use these to commit corporate heists, “liberating” cash and gold from those they believe are sucking the world dry in a sort of Robin Hood way.
Utah meets up with this group in the middle of the ocean in a surfing scene, which is a definite ode to the original film, and ends up almost drowning, causing Bodhi to dive in and save his life. Later, waking up on their financial backers massive boat, Utah befriends the group, with him and Bodhi forming a quick bond. Even quicker is the romantic relationship between him and the lone woman in the crew, Samsara (Palmer), a flighty and existential thrillseeker. As Utah falls for her, like the original, he is drawn deeper and deeper into the brotherhood of the group. The plot is much looser than Katheryn Bigelow’s if that can be believed.
The funniest thing about this new Point Break is how deep it tries to be. The Bodhi and company aren’t just ripping off banks in masks depicting presidents, they’re doing this as a bigger calling to the universe, to meet true enlightenment. This is all incredibly ridiculous as this film is as false as every character’s fake tattoos. Even the female lead Samsara has a scene explaining her name to Johnny as being “the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound” giving her a flighty dream girl quality equiped with her flock of birds tattoos ascending up her arm. It’s so heavy handed that it’s completely laughable.
Beyond this dumbness between instant friendships and love affairs, this film just really plays like an X-Games highlight reel of crazy stunt. Ramirez, being the more focal and veteran actor of the main cast, is completely lost in his desperate attempts to be charismatic, a shallow representation of what Patrick Swayze brought to this role. Luke Bracey on the opposite end is so absolutely bland that you can’t even muster the energy to root for him. And that iconic fire the gun into the air scene that was so lovingly parodied in Hot Fuzz? Completely shoehorned into this one and will give you a bloody nose from facepalming.
It’s pretty hilarious to note that heading into the preview week of this film Warner Brothers cancelled press screenings throughout the U.S. and pushed our embargo here in Canada to midnight on Christmas Eve. Does that sound like the move of a studio who is proud of their film? Not to me it doesn’t but obviously the execs got a look at this mediocre on the side of horrible movie that would stink up their holiday box office. If you’re thinking of seeing this one just don’t and dig up the original. I don’t think it ages well but it’s leaps and bounds better than this sad retread. Point Break is a one out of five.