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Friday, December 25, 2015

Movie Review: 'Point Break'

The visually appealing but illogical Point Break also lacks an emotional core.

Review by Matt Cummings


As a moviegoer, you probably have a unique relationship with 1991's Point Break. You either love it for the over-top-action by Director Kathryn Bigelow or your hate it for Actor Keanu Reeve's now famous 'brah' shtick. Regardless of what side of the fence you ride, it's clear that a remake probably wasn't at the top of anyone's Most Anticipated List. And while sports some of the best real-life action of the year, it fails miserably to set up a believable tale of extreme crime and our growing environmental crisis.

Extreme sports dude Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) quits the game for the FBI after his partner dies. Filled with guilt over the matter, he soon becomes entrenched in a series of extreme sports crimes, one that costs the United States millions of dollars when a money shipment over Mexico is compromised. But the team, headed by the idealistic Brohdi (Edgar Ramirez), aren't committing these crimes to steal: their Robin Hood sensibilities are well-funded and off the books, leading Utah to wonder about their ultimate goal as he infiltrates their gang. As his relationship deepens with fellow athlete Samsara (Teresa Palmer), Utah must separate his loyalties to the mission and from the gang's unique bond before the FBI takes them all down.

Point Break faces a difficult task of replacing a film that wasn't well-reviewed when it arrived but has grown into something far more than it ever was. Given that sort of odd history, the remake makes several illogical moves and never reaches the emotional peak that the original did manage to get right. But that's not to say that Director Ericson Core doesn't turn in a series of high-flying, well-crafted stunts that could be the best since Mad Max: Fury Road. Utilizing what appears to be a mix of GoPros and studio 3D cameras during several stunts, the film looks terrific and feels as visceral as the label 'extreme sports' suggests. These are the real deal, not green-screened to save on cost.

But when the action turns to story, Point Break utterly fails to keep our attention. The reason why the original worked was because the FBI were investigating a series of crimes in the United States. Almost all of the new ones occur overseas, which means the FBI would never have gotten involved. And yet there is the FBI, doing something that not even the CIA would bother to pursue. When that sort of filter is applied, other cracks begin to show as well: who is the meaningless rich guy who supporting Bohdi, and why does his crew suddenly accept Utah, for any other reason than his love for extreme sports? Once doubt begins to creep into a universe you're trying to establish, forget about bringing audiences any further.

Bracey does well enough, but his 'conflict' is really centered around when having sex with Samsara will give him the maximum effect to his investigation, which really is nothing but an excuse to extreme sport the Hell out of things. I liked him better in November Man, but here he's just a good-looking dude with little reason to pursue this case. Reeves really got his rep from the '93 version, but here Bracey is just a one-dimensional lawman. Palmer is serviceable, as is Ramirez who is never quite the baddie we expect. His posse is just a bunch of low-lifes who for some reason subscribe to Bodhi's bullshit about re-connecting with Mother Nature. They just become smears on the canyon wall as their addiction for extreme sports overtakes them.

More importantly, Writer Kurt Wimmer doesn't exactly imbue anyone here with any graying loyalties. The good are good and the bad must be taken down. Things would have been so much better had that gray area been explored, allowing Utah to seriously test his loyalties to Bodhi instead of listening to his boss (Delroy Lindo) complain about Utah's lack of checking in. That's really as deep as we get here, which eventually pulls down even the terrific action sequences.

When one considers that all press screenings for Point Break were strangely cancelled (due to "unforeseen circumstances"), it's clear that DMG Entertainment clearly got cold feet, opting to make reviewers wait for Christmas Day to see it. Don't bother: Point Break looks pretty as does its leads but the story goes in illogical directions before giving up to a wild green-screened ending that betrays much of the visceral action Core had done so well to construct.

Point Break is rated PG-13 for violence, thematic material involving perilous activity, some sexuality, language and drug material and has a runtime of 113 minutes.

Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.

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