I don’t know who was out there banging down Warner Bros’ door in search of a Point Break remake, but I can’t imagine they’re satisfied with the one they’ve been given. A spectacular misfire, the new Point Break is either a very expensive practical joke or an unfathomable mistake for a Hollywood studio to make.
Based on the 1991 Kathryn Bigelow film of the same name, Point Break comes to us courtesy of director Ericson Core (Invincible, Family Law) and screenwriter Kurt Wimmer (Salt, Law Abiding Citizen). An absurd tale, it follows an extreme sports athlete named Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey; GI Joe: Retaliation, The November Man), who in addition to having the most incredible name of all time is also the unfortunate witness to his friend’s death during one of their extreme motorbike rides. Shaken, Utah quits the field and dedicates his life to becoming a FBI agent. Soon after entering his new profession, a series of bizarre robberies occur which invariably lead to the culprits escaping via parachute or river rafting.
Naturally, Utah jumps to the same obvious conclusion I’m sure we all did: that this is a group of extreme athletes attempting the Osaki 8, a series of extreme challenges through which one is said to reach Nirvana, and committing crimes while doing so for some reason. Somehow convinced, Utah’s boss (Delroy Lindo; Up, Blood and Oil) sends him and a partner (two-time BAFTA Film Award nominee Ray Winstone; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Snow White and the Huntsman) to the location of the next challenge so Utah can infiltrate the group and bring down its charismatic leader Bodhi (Golden Globe Award nominee Edgar Ramirez; Joy, The Bourne Ultimatum).
Point Break is a deeply stupid movie. While it starts with some vague semblance of a coherent narrative (wild leaps of logic notwithstanding), the movie quickly goes off the deep end in a glorious mess that is at the same time awful and strangely fascinating. The script is terrible, prompting laughter when it’s playing a scene dead straight and failing to string the plot together in a satisfactory manner.
The film is essentially a group of extreme sports set pieces barely linked with the thinnest strands of narrative tissue to get it there. These set pieces are pretty awesome, I’ll give them that. Sequences involving surfing, snowboarding and rock climbing are all presented in a breathtaking manner, with the beautiful environment of the shooting locations paying dividends at creating an interesting picture onscreen. The athleticism of the cast and stunt performers are also worth a ton of praise: they pull it off and they do it quite well.
When the action slows and the characters open their mouths however, the movie becomes a hilarious mess. The reasoning for Bodhi’s gang committing all these crimes is poorly addressed, the result being a laughable motivation when the film was clearly going for something deeper and the movie takes great pains to avoid addressing the frankly jarring juxtaposition between the amiable and sincere personalities of its villains and their sudden displays of extreme violence for no good reason.
None of it really makes any sense, and while the film seems to be desperately struggling to achieve some sort storytelling Nirvana of its own, all it succeeds at is filling time with goofy, stilted dialogue and a collection of truly ridiculous “serious” moments before it can throw caution to the wind and do some big stunt again.
To their credit, the cast do try. Bracey does better than anyone could ever have reasonably expected with his role, delivering inane lines and navigating badly written scenes with an admirable commitment that the film doesn’t deserve, and Ramirez and Lindo (the latter of whom is criminally underused) do fine work with their characters as well. Utah’s lazily written love interest is even blessed with a fine young actress in the form of Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), who really is too good for the role she’s given. The only true misfire in the cast is Winstone, who seems like he’s realised the movie isn’t very good and has already checked out for the duration.
From a technical point of view the film hits home as well. As I mentioned earlier, the stunts are terrific and the cinematography is generally outstanding, fully utilising the incredible environs the characters find themselves in. The visual effects are largely capable and the sound design is also a high point. One particular sequence does excellent work with the noise of waves to create a steadily building ancillary soundtrack to a particularly impressive surfing scene. Indeed, the movie is blessed with a lot: a strong cast, a nice presentation and some pretty incredible set pieces, but its problems are all narrative and they’re all crippling.
I just don’t understand why this is a movie that exists. New Star Wars? Sure. New Godzilla? Makes sense. New Jurassic Park? I get that logic. But who was asking for a new Point Break? Even putting aside that apparent absence of demand, the product we have been given is terrible. It’s a glorious train wreck of a movie, going off the rails in spectacular, laughable fashion despite the noble attempts of its cast and crew to force it back on track. If you’ve got a friend to laugh at the movie with then maybe, just maybe, Point Break could be worth the afternoon at the movies, but make no mistake: the only way to enjoy the film is ironically.