Point Break remake review: High-octane stunts do not a good movie make.
There’s an argument that the remake of Point Break shouldn’t really exist – believe me, we’ve had it out here at THN Towers everyday since the project was announced. 25 years have passed since the Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves original graced our screens, which, let’s face it, was nigh on perfect. Perfect script, perfect direction, bromantic action aplenty, great stunts, and one of the best Swayze performances of all time (bar Road House and Dirty Dancing of course). They say that it’s too soon. They say it ain’t right. They say the original is one of those films that should never be remade. Ever. They say, they say. This argument is irrelevant. This Point Break remake review will see it graded and examined on its own merit.
In a day when the Fast and the Furious movies are gloriously getting away with absolutely anything, and audiences, including ourselves, are applauding them one after another, a film like this should be given the chance. So, let’s do just that.
Clearly taking a leaf out of the ‘Fast‘ movies’ book, and sprinkling a little xXx on top of proceedings too (we’re talking the Vin Diesel movie and not that other ‘genre’ of film), director Erikson Core‘s updated offering starts off decently enough, with an opening sequence involving a pair of off-road bikes skidding atop a dirt-track hundreds of feet above sea level. The story is basically the same as the original, with that scene acting as a catalyst for our hero Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) to change careers from extreme sports You-Tuber to the FBI. Utah is on the verge of getting his badge when a group of elite, thrill seeking athletes are identified following a strong of inconceivable crimes across three continents. Linking them together, Utah discovers that the group may be attempting to complete the infamous, while fictional, ‘Ozaki Eight‘, a bucket list of extreme, crime-ridden feats which are apparently ‘a way of communing with all the energies of the Earth’. After prodding his seasoned captain, played by Delroy Lindo, Utah must go deep undercover to stop the unrelenting gang, headed by Edgar Ramirez as Bodhi, their bronzed, buff leader. What follows is nearly two hours of high-octane action embracing a variety of extreme sports as Utah attempts to take the gang down.
Where to begin? Well, let us start with the positive. Writer Kurt Wimmer’s new Point Break attempts to be a little different to its 1991 predecessor, while still remaining true to the stuff that made it so good in the first place. Director, and cinematographer Core has assembled a team of stunt players that are the best in their field; pro-surfers, sky divers snowboarders, motorcyclists, wing-suit stunt pilots, snowboarders and even free-climbers. He uses all of them to create real-life action set-pieces that are truly breathtaking to watch. As we said, there’s a superb opening, and along the way, four or five outstanding stunt sequences to go with it, all expertly and fantastically performed that are truly gripping to watch. But that’s essentially where the positivity stops.
Taking away the fact that this is a remake of one of the best action movies of the 1990s, Point Break (2016) is an absolute mess of a film. The film is like watching endless extreme sports videos on YouTube with random scenes of people chatting popping up here and there. Point Break doesn’t feel like a film at all, but more of a product; one that we don’t want, and one that is being forced in front of us, urging us to buy it – which of course we don’t. For a film that is being sold to us as 100% real, featuring 100% real stunts, the film has some of the worst CGI in a movie that we’ve ever seen. It is obvious that faces have been superimposed on stunt men and women here and there; it is clear that while some bits are being executed for real, which is really quite impressive, some scenes are definitely not, most notably the terrible end sequence – possibly the worst CGI ever committed to film.
So, let’s compare it to the original then… Gone is the bromance. Gone is the love of the characters. Gone is the [good] cheese. Gone is the solid, consistent direction. Gone is most of the original story. Gone is the heart. Bracey and Ramirez attempt to do their best with the material, but their cheesy one-liners grate rather than delight and there’s little to no bond between them; an essential for the story to work. The dialogue is clunky, the characters largely unlikable, particularly Pappas, the ‘Gary Busey’ character being played by the usually solid Ray Winstone. Pappas is totally unnecessary and pointless – seemingly wedged in to attempt to match the story to the original as much as possible. Then there are the gentle, or indeed not so gentle nods to the original. They’ll have you cringing in your seat. No, really.
I wanted to like Point Break. Remakes sometimes work when they are done in the right way. It would have been easy to parody the original, which gladly the filmmakers do not, but this poor reboot goes too far the other way – it takes itself too seriously. Something that the original did not – the reason that it is liked some much even to this day.
So, unfortunately our fears are realised. This is a messy, clunky offering with no apparent reason for existing. With an original film that still stands up to this day, 25 years on from its original release, you’d be best seeking that out again instead.
The Point Break remake review by Paul Heath, February 2016.
Point Break is released in UK cinemas of Friday 5th February, 2016.