So I watched Point Break…
When I first heard about this movie it was surrounded by an air of criticism (as most remakes are). People were worried that it wouldn’t be made in the spirit of the original or that the cast wouldn’t be as charismatic or the hundred other fears that come up whenever a potential remake is announced. Now I’ve only watched the original once (literally, the day before watching this film) and – while I did think it was awesome – I didn’t have a deep love for it and was more than open to the idea of a remake. This film does almost everything that a good remake should – it expands the story and modernises it with new technology. The only place where it fails is recapturing the original spirit of the film
Okay, basic plot: Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) is a young FBI trainee looking to escape his former, thrill-seeking past. When a series of daredevil robberies are committed, Johnny suspects that the crew behind the crimes are extreme poly-athletes just like he once was. Utah must once again enter the world of extreme sports in order to infiltrate the gang. During his investigation he meets Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez) – the charismatic leader of the gang Utah suspects is responsible for the crimes. As Utah spends more and more time investigating the crew, Bodhi’s influence over him grows and his loyalties soon come into question.
This film is a thrill ride! From the very first second, you’re thrown headfirst into the action and the action in this film is its best feature. There are breathtaking shots and majestic views aplenty in this film. I wish I had seen it in IMAX because all the action set-pieces in this film deserved a grander stage than the one provided by a regular cinema screen. The shots are expansive and the action is immersive! You feel like you’re performing the stunts alongside the characters and you can feel your heart’s pace quickening with every scene. Director, Ericson Core, who is also this film’s Director of Photography really understood the best way to produce these shots. You feel the magnitude and potential risk of every action sequence because of the care and insight that is shown with the way he chooses to film them.
I do think that remakes have a place in cinema when they’re as well-done as this film. The whole point of a remake is to take stories that were limited by the technology and thinking of a certain time and expand them with innovation. This film does that sensationally. There is so much more action and suspense in this film than the original. I also loved how practical everything felt. It felt like you could reach out and touch the waves they were surfing or the cliffs over which they were gliding. It takes the action to a whole new level which I loved.
The one place I thought this film was lacking was in recapturing the spirit that made the original fun. The original was a light-hearted fun adventure that embraced its ridiculousness but it also had a layer of emotional depth. The struggle between Bodhi’s Zen philosophical beliefs and the violent nature of his crimes; Utah’s rigid duty to the law against his wild, adventurous side. There were philosophical and moral issues at hand but they were pushed to the background in favour for awesome surfing and cool skydiving shots. This remake tries to bring these philosophical debates to the fore and has them share centre stage with the action. This made the film feel bogged down and overly serious. This film needed to tread shallower water than it did and keep things more fun, which is the point of a film like this.
I think the two new leads Luke Bracey and Édgar Ramírez do a great job. Comparing them to Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze wouldn’t be fair so I won’t. Ramirez impressed me with his intense and charming portrayal of master criminal, Bodhi. He had not only the physical presence down but also the philosophical duality of the character. Bracey also does well and he has a certain appeal to him which I enjoyed seeing. Teresa Palmer has a supporting role in this film and I absolutely loved her acting. I didn’t recognise her, in fact. It’s a very different role from what I’ve seen her in – she has a lot more strength in this film than I’ve seen her previously portray.
I admire this film for trying to do something different and setting itself apart from the original. There are one or two scenes that are carbon copies of the original but the majority of it is fresh and feels new. One of my favourite characters from the original is marginalised in this film which I didn’t enjoy but I understand because of the demands of the story. This film, at times, feels a lot like xXx or Fast and Furious but the original Point Break inspired those films so is this film stealing from them or have they already stolen from it?
Overall, Point Break is fun. I think it makes its story too serious, perhaps in an attempt to justify itself as a good movie but it’s definitely not needed. This is a high-paced, adrenaline-pumping action fest and that’s fine. It has great thrills, great action and it looks amazing. Visually, it’s one of the best shot films I’ve seen all year. If you liked the original, you’ll like this; if you haven’t seen the original, even better. Go watch it 7/10