Point Break (2015)
Find your breaking point.
After losing a friend in a perilous motorbike trek, Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) leaves the world of extreme sports.
Seven years later, Utah, now a fresh FBI candidate, sits on a briefing where he learns of two exceedingly dangerous heists — one involving motorbikes in a skyscraper, another, skydiving from a plane. Utah researches and believes there’s a link — it’s the same team attempting eight extreme ordeals called ‘The Ozaki Eight’ — named after Ono Ozaki, an eco-warrior who challenged the extreme sports world with a series of eight trials that honor the forces of nature.
Utah’s FBI senior, Instructor Hall (Delroy Lindo) takes a chance on Utah’s theory and sends him undercover to France with the aid of field agent Angelo Pappas (Ray Winstone) as Utah believes that next, the crooks will attempt a stunt on a rare sea wave phenomenon. After being overcome by a behemoth wave, Utah is rescued by Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez), who introduces him to an off-the-grid world of parties and risk, with Bodhi becoming Utah’s key suspect.
As Johnny Utah becomes romantically engaged with free-spirit Samsara Dietz (Teresa Palmer) and involved with Bodhi’s ideology and world of superlative balance, tensions rise as his loyalties are tested as much as his physical endurance.
It’s really intriguing that the new Point Break represents a kind of closing of a circle that began with the original.
See, the 1991 film inspired the basic outline of another hit a decade after — The Fast and the Furious (2001), starring the late Paul Walker, The Skulls (2000), and Vin Diesel, Pitch Black (2000), replacing surfing with street racing and bank robberies with truck heists. That film grew into a successful, over-the-top, action franchise with the most recent hit entry being Furious 7 (2015).
The 2015 Point Break takes its cues from two Vin Diesel vehicles (excuse the pun) in its (poor) attempt to recreate the ‘family’ style team and loyalty challenges of The Fast and the Furious, with the extreme sports action of the terribly underrated xXx (2002) — director/cinematographer Ericson Core, Invincible (2006), is far more successful at the latter. (And yes, he’s a person, not a new mobile phone). The fact that filmmaker Core served as cinematographer on The Fast and the Furious really seems to cement his intentions of nabbing that franchise’s action hungry fans, serving something familiar, while attempting to present different, daring stunts. Well, does it work?
I’ll be straight with you — I’m likely in the minority, but I enjoyed this. It’s a silly, overblown stunt show with often-terrible dialogue and confusing motivations, but there are plenty of spectacular kicks to be had regardless. Two particular highlights were a gliding sequence at breakneck speeds and a rock-climb without protection. Set against some stunning backdrops, the action does exactly what it intends to do – thrill.
I get it — it’s likely that your curiosity in this new movie largely stems from nostalgia for the 1991 original cult hit, directed by a then relatively unknown Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker (2008), and starring iconic 90’s heartthrobs Keanu Reeves, John Wick (2014), and Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing (1987). It’s also likely that no matter what, this movie isn’t going to satisfy you like the original did — it was an iconic action movie for the under 25 crowd, that resonated strongly with its audience at the time.
Try as they may, I have to admit the central ‘bromance’ of Utah and Bodhi, realized by Luke Bracey, The November Man (2014), and Édgar Ramírez, The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), doesn’t quite hit it off like Reeves and Swayze did. Bracey’s Utah mostly comes across as an airhead who couldn’t possibly become a successful FBI Agent and Ramírez’s Bodhi is such a self-righteous arsehole, whose so-called ‘cause’ seems like an excuse for selfish indulgence.
While the material really had rich thematic potential and could’ve explored a challenging grey area of morals and philosophy, the underwhelming screenwriting by Kurt Wimmer of the criminally under-seen sci-fi action thriller Equalibrium (2002) — oddly enough, a movie that actually does explore challenging philosophy — simply doesn’t demonstrate an interest in that. Throw in some truly awkward exchanges (Samsara’s reflection on her father is unintentionally funny in its timing), along with really confusing motivations (is the goal to become one with nature by destroying it and yourself or something?) The result is an undercooked piece of pulpy comic-book style storytelling. So why did I enjoy this again?
It’s fun, fast, action-packed and harmless. This is to me, and Saturday-night-action-junkies, what Tinkerbell (2008) would be to fairy-loving pre-schoolers. A weird comparison? Perhaps, but apparently so was my enjoyment of Point Break.
If you can — forget the original, go with the nonsensical flow, embrace the crazy stunt work and munch your yummy popcorn. Perhaps then, you might be able to have a good time like I did.
3 / 5 – Good
Reviewed by Steve Ramsie
Point Break is released through Roadshow Entertainment Australia