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Saturday, 2 January 2016

Point Break (2016)

(M) ★½

Director: Ericson Core.

Cast: Édgar Ramírez, Luke Bracey, Ray Winstone, Teresa Palmer, Matias Varela, Clemens Schick, Tobias Santelmann, Delroy Lindo.

A pile of money being thrown out of a plane - yep, that sums up the Point Break remake.

LET’S be honest – the original Point Break is no masterpiece.

At best it’s a cult classic and one of the better examples of early ‘90s action movies, built on a charismatic turn from the late Patrick Swayze and its iconic bank-robbing and sky-diving scenes.

But when compared to this remake, the original Point Break looks like Citizen Kane.

As is typical of updates, this new version turns everything up to 11, but in trying to be bigger, louder and more exciting, it ends up being nonsensical and loses any sense of subtlety. And let’s face it – the original wasn’t exactly subtle to start with.

Bracey takes the Keanu Reeves role of Johnny Utah, who in this take is an ex-extreme sportsman turned FBI agent. Encouraged by his superior (Lindo) and a grizzled London-based agent (Winstone in the Gary Busey role), Utah goes on the hunt for a gang of “extreme poly-athletes” who are committing crimes while travelling the globe performing a mythical set of eight “extreme ordeals”.

Going undercover, Utah meets gang leader Bodhi (Ramírez), who takes Utah under his wing and makes the FBI agent question his loyalties.

The good bits of this remake are entirely restricted to the action sequences. Fans of extreme sports will get a kick out of this, but even the less excitable audience members will be impressed by the stuntwork here, which includes flying in squirrel suits, riding motorbikes across mountain ranges, snowboarding down cliffs, and big wave surfing.

It’s everything around these moments that sucks. Bracey, a graduate of Home & Away who starred recently in the atrocious Nicholas Sparks film The Best Of Me, does his best but it’s not good enough to save a bad film. And when Keanu Reeves does a better job in the same role as you, you know you’re in trouble.

Ramírez is a great actor, but not charismatic enough for the role of Bodhi. Winstone and Lindo are slumming it, but you really feel sorry for Teresa Palmer, who is making a habit of picking bad movies. Every single line her character Samsara utters is hippie-esque drivel intended to be aphoristic but which comes off sounding like a bad motivational poster. Her dialogue is the kind of crap people re-post on Facebook when they think they’re being deep, right in between posts about the healing power of crystals and how awesome Food Babe is (hint: not very awesome at all).

The movie is dripping with this faux-philosophical BS. It continually touts a line about giving back to the earth and sharing the wealth – meanwhile its main characters are sponsored by a wealthy billionaire playboy, travel the world with the best designer clothes and sports gear, and when their line of credit is cut off they resort to robbing banks and killing people.

Beyond the film’s moral idiocy, it struggles with its plot, dialogue and logic. The stupid moments and coincidences are too numerous to mention but my favourite involves Utah following Bodhi in a free climb up Angel Falls in Venezuela. Utah knows Bodhi is going to climb it. He even turns up right as Bodhi is about to climb it. But rather than arrange to wait at the top for Bodhi and arrest him then, Utah has to climb Angel Falls as well. It’s typical of the film’s approach, which is all about looking good, logic be damned.

There are so many dumb things in this film that you almost accept them as commonplace. When the very first death occurs, it’s because a character does something incredibly dumb. Is the audience supposed to feel empathy for that death or nominate the character for a Darwin Award?

If not for the amazing stunt sequences, this film would get one star – that is the lowest score I give, because all films deserve at least one star for getting made in the first place and film-making is not easy. But the stunts raise it to one and a half.

Still, the year has only just begun, and already we have a contender for worst film of 2016.

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