Do a Shot: whenever someone says “giving back” or “Ozaki Eight.”
Take a Drink: for every instance of hippie-dippy conversation.
Take a Drink: for everything Utah does that would probably get him thrown out of the FBI.
Do a Shot: every time Bracey uses his “serious face.”
By: Hawk Ripjaw (Two Beers) –
Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey), polyathlete/extreme sports enthusiast/promotor for an energy drink or whatever, is all about that next rush. In fact, the movie opens with him and his buddy motorbiking across a historically dangerous, “nobody’s ever done it” trail along a canyon, culminating in a ludicrous jump onto a plateau. While Utah makes the jump, his friend overshoots the jump and plummets to his death. Devastated, Utah joins the FBI (?). Flash forward a few years, and a group of criminals are interspersing large-scale heists with ridiculous daredevil stunts. Utah, somehow briefly omniscient, realizes that the stunts these men are doing are part of a legendary feat known as The Ozaki Eight, a series of deadly, unique challenges that have never been completed in full. Utah decides to infiltrate the group to see what their endgame is, and try to stop them. After getting chummy with their leader, Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez), and banging Bodhi’s adopted sister Samsara (Teresa Palmer, who ironically has a son named Bodhi in real life), Utah learns that these men are in fact doing all of these things as a way of sustaining the Earth and “giving back” to mother nature as the rest of the population continues to take away from it.
From the very beginning, the one and only draw of this remake has been the increase in scope from surfing to a gamut of environmentally diverse stunts. Surfing still factors in, but it’s joined by skydiving, wingsuiting, snowboarding, rock-climbing, and so on. These characters are all about the exhilaration of these stunts, and the movie’s prime directive is giving the viewer that same sense of reckless, near-death adrenaline.
The standout scene is a breathtaking wingsuit sequence through a massive chasm in Switzerland. It’s worth noting that the stunts in this movie were done without the assistance of CGI, so four stuntmen, followed by a fifth cameraman, literally glided through this canyon. Point Break, if nothing else, is a testament to how practical effects and old-school stuntwork are vastly superior to the computer-assisted whimsy of the present.
Director Ericson Core, who has served as a DP on the original The Fast and the Furious movies, goes for a kinetic, in-your-face visual style that feels a bit too aggressive during a hand-to-hand fight midway through the film but otherwise has a great sense of energy and momentum.
The movie puts all of its eggs into the same basket and leaves none for any others. Wholly focused on the stunts, the team behind this remake put little energy into the dialogue, story, acting, or anything else. The original movie certainly isn’t known for its quality acting or writing, but it was a fun story and everyone did what they were supposed to do and did so just fine. Even Keanu’s ghastly acting seemed weirdly calculated in a way that only a character named Johnny Utah could make work. The dialogue, relationships, and story in the remake is just a means to an end, a way to get to the next action scene. They almost feel reluctant in a way that the filmmakers were obligated to have actual talking scenes against their will, when all they really wanted to make was a sizzle reel of stunts.
While there are moments of amusing absurdity (which I would put money on being unintentional), the endearing cheese of the original is nowhere to be found. The action sequences of the original were interspersed with cornball bro-ing out between Utah and his new friends. Playing all of that completely straight here sucks all of the air out of it. With all of the talk of the dying Earth, and giving back, and other environmentalists waxing poetic, the scenes that don’t involve extreme stunts feel heavy and plodding. An air of goofiness is what makes a story this dumb work, and when they try to play it so seriously, the story goes from being in on the joke (like it was in the original) to being part of it.
It’s almost astonishing how much Point Break doesn’t actually suck. It’s not very great, either, but there is a certain boldness to the ways it deviates from the original for an update that feels fresher than other similar remakes. Structurally, this feels more like what a remake should be: not just a fresh coat of paint, but a retooling that experiments with different ideas (even if they don’t always work). And those practical stunts are still cool as shit. It’s just a bummer that there’s little else of interest in the movie, and the lack of the original’s endearing, smug stupidity results in some pretty leaden drama and an ultimately inferior film. As long as you temper expectations accordingly, you could do a lot worse for a $5 matinee.