How the heck do you screw up “Point Break”?
The 1991 original became a basic-cable favorite because of its simple, strange story about a band of bank-robbing surfers — and director Kathryn Bigelow brought real vigor to W. Peter Iliff’s script. By contrast, the newly released “Point Break” remake is tedious and overblown — as though the filmmakers were so preoccupied with “updating” the material that they forgot what made it so popular in the first place.
The first film was no masterpiece, but it was memorable. The redo seems to exist solely to confuse DVRs.
Bland Aussie hunk Luke Bracey struggles to fill Keanu Reeves’ shoes as Johnny Utah, a headstrong FBI agent who has a rocky past as an extreme athlete. Édgar Ramírez steps in for Patrick Swayze as Bodhi, a philosophical activist and adventurer who steals from the rich and gives to the poor, all while leading a squad of globe-hopping thrill-seekers.
Director Ericson Core and screenwriter Kurt Wimmer have beefed up their “Point Break” by supplementing the surfing and skydiving of the first film with an array of over-the-top “eco challenges,” including snowboarding, cliff-diving, free-form climbing, high-elevation motocross, and wingsuit flying. Roughly every 15 minutes or so, Bodhi and his bros risk their lives, in the name of spiritual enlightenment and raising environmental awareness.
Quickly, the extravagance of the stunts becomes numbing, partly because the mix of CGI and practical effects is unconvincing and partly because nearly every sequence ends with a character dying — with few lingering ramifications.
Johnny himself is responsible for multiple deaths by movie’s end while working undercover as another of Bodhi’s fearless tattooed idiots. His superiors mostly hang back and let it happen.
The preposterousness of the 2015 “Point Break” isn’t any more of a deal breaker now than it was in 1991. But while Bigelow’s version featured charismatic lead performances and ample pop, Core’s cast mumbles slowly and sparingly at one another until it’s time to jump off something.
The new film does carry over one big idea from the earlier picture: the notion that when hyper-macho men gather in a group they encourage each other’s worst impulses.
But there’s no subtext of criticism here. Instead, the movie seems to admire the boldness of these dudes’ stupid dares. And since Bracey and Ramírez lack the chemistry of Reeves and Swayze, the audience never buys into their escapades. Their choices make less and less sense as this “Point Break” plays out.
The result is a movie that becomes enough of an extreme endurance test that Bodhi could easily add it to his to-do list.
MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence, thematic material involving perilous activity, some sexuality, language and drug material
Running time: 1 hour, 53 minutes
Playing: In general release