Movie review: Point Break
The remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s cult classic about two dudes on opposite sides of the law is a murky bore
Starring: Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Ray Winstone, Teresa Palmer, Delroy Lindo, Matias Varela
Directed by: Ericson Core
Running time: 113 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG-13
By Katherine Monk
When the original Point Break came out in 1991, coming out was still a big deal. Homoerotic tension between men was still taboo, and adrenaline sports had yet to become synonymous with energy drinks and clothing sponsors.
But things have changed a lot in the quarter-century since Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) and Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) rode the pipe together. Gay men can get married and extreme athletics are an industry, so if you really think about it, there was no point in remaking Kathryn Bigelow’s cult classic — outside of a crass grab at your pocketbook.
Clearly, the producers figured there was a new line to ride through the rocky couloir of man love now that we have wind suits and giant wave surfing, but this new Point Break is a wipeout in every sense of the word.
The script is bad, the plot is ridiculous, the drama is flat and even the big-budget action sequences that take us snowboarding on vertiginous slopes, rock climbing up steep granite faces and big wave riding in the middle of the ocean fail to quicken the heart beat.
It’s a messy misfire, but given many of the same issues plagued the first film — namely, a terrible script filled with bad dialogue — it makes you wonder why Bigelow’s movie rose to the surface as a generational marker, while this one will sink to the bottom of an already stagnant pool of reboots.
The biggest reason I can finger is plain old personality: This movie has none. Despite casting two very good-looking men in the roles of Bodhi and Johnny, there’s no chemistry between them.
Venezuelan actor Edgar Ramirez (Joy, Carlos) takes on the role of Bodhi, an extreme thrill seeker who looks at the natural world as a sacred playground designed to test his manly mettle. Aussie actor Luke Bracey (The November Man, The Best of Me) is Utah, a young FBI agent looking to make his mark.
When a group of masked criminals starts stealing vast quantities of money from morally bankrupt sources, only to redistribute the riches to the poor, the authorities task FBI team leader Pappas (Ray Winstone) to find the right recruit to infiltrate the gang of newfangled Robin Hoods. His choice is obvious. It has to be Johnny Utah, a former pro surfer who now works as a G-man.
Johnny is eager to make the collar and catch Bodhi and his merry men in the act, but the more he gets to know the muscular man with the accent, the more he comes to admire his wet-suited amigo. And the more risky the stunts become.
It feels a bit like Tom and Jerry with parachutes and snowboards instead of sledgehammers and cheese: a one-note chase story that doesn’t really progress, it just uses different props. Inevitably, the whole thing starts to feel tedious before we’re told about the “Ozaki Eight” — a series of extreme feats designed to push every human limit in a bid to transcend fear.
Of course, there is no such thing as the Ozaki Eight — but it means we have to sit in the theatre and start counting down to the finale as Johnny closes in on Bodhi, one awkward advance at a time.
The entire enterprise is thoroughly unbelievable, but cinematographer-turned-director Ericson Core tries to sell it with a straight face, giving Bodhi and Utah plenty of time to exchange manly glances in their body gloves — which was exactly the right approach.
The dynamic between the two men is the core appeal, but there’s a curious lack of sizzle and a sad absence of winking self-awareness. The original worked because even Swayze and Reeves recognized the insanity of the premise and decided to play along — as though the whole movie were one beautifully elaborate joke, and we, the audience were in on it from the very beginning.
This movie has all the required “straight man” seriousness but no flamboyant flourishes. There is no humour, no charm, no joy. Just lots of tattoos and disappointing action sequences that turn even the most daring deeds into murky, visually jumbled vignettes. Whether we’re following a stunt man down a snowy slope or plummeting to earth in a wind suit, the action footage is so clipped and fragmented, we never feel the desired awe.
Making matters worse, the whole movie looks like it was shot through the bottom of a green beer bottle, giving everything an almost gangrenous hue — including our two studs, who do a fine job in separate closeups, but never find a common groove. It’s like watching two men who can’t dance attempt a quick two-step across the dance floor with someone yelling “make it sexy!”
Reeves and Swayze had a natural chemistry and enough confidence to give each other a little tongue-in-cheek love in every scene, and Bigelow had the sensitivity to make the swollen man-drama as big as the spectacle itself. Ericson may assemble all the right pieces, but without a clear dramatic design, it’s just a yard sale filled with reproductions that make you yearn for the original.
THE EX-PRESS, December 25, 2015