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Thursday, December 24, 2015

Point Break (2015)

Young and dumb and full of... crap?

This review is also up at Channel 24.

What it's about

Johnny Utah, a young FBI agent, infiltrates a group of extreme sports athletes whose mission to complete eight increasingly difficult endurance tests is backed up by a series of heists – some for personal gain, but most for Robin-Hood-like wealth redistribution. A loose remake of the 1991 film of the same name.

What we thought

The original Point Break is something of a cult classic among action junkies but aside for the occasional memorable set piece (the firing his gun in the air bit) or the occasionally quotable line of goofy dialogue (“young and dumb and full of cum”), it was never much more than moderately okay. The decision to remake it, then, needn't have been such a bad move as it's always been a smarter idea to remake promising but ultimately flawed films than serious classics, but, as you may have guessed, this slightly more modern Point Break makes the original look like a stone-cold masterpiece by comparison.

The overall plot of an FBI agent becoming to attached to a group of likable criminals and, most especially, its charismatic leader remains intact here, as do the names of most of the major characters but the decision to build the action around a series of increasingly mad extreme sports endurance tests, rather than just surfing, is a fairly notable change. In theory, of course, it adds some much-needed diversity to the action set pieces but, in practice, it mostly becomes an excuse to insert some very much unneeded tree-hugging mumbo jumbo into the mix – far, far worse than any of the already incredibly irritating “surfer spirituality” of the original – giving the film a horribly humourless pretentious sheen that is really thoroughly unearned.

To be fair though, the one thing that stops the film from getting an even worse rating, is that the extreme sports set pieces do actually boast some rather nice cinematography, which compliments well its bevy of beautiful people for people of all sexual persuasions to enjoy. It's a quite lovely looking film, in other words, which isn't much of a surprise as its director, Ericson Core, is primarily known for his work as a DoP – it's just too bad that all that beautiful scenery is wasted on one of the year's stinkiest scripts, brought to zombie-like, undead life by a group of actors who (aside for Ray Winstone and Teresa Palmer - the latter of whom basically gets by from residual goodwill from Warm Bodies) make Keanu's acting in the original look like Robert Deniro in Raging Bull.

Every line of dialogue in the film is teeth-grindingly awful, featuring none of the goofy '80s action charm or humour of the original movie, but is made a million times worse by its woefully inadequate pretensions towards eco-friendly timeliness. The way we treat our home planet is an incredibly important discussion, of course, but it's laughably out of place in a big, dumb action flick – especially when its dealt with as pompously as it is here.

The plot itself is basically fine, I suppose, but the characters are almost as bad as the awful dialogue they get stuck with. Luke Bracey is stuck doing a terrible imitation of Keanu Reeves (minus all of the charm) and Edgar Romirez is certainly no Patrick Swayze, but it's hard to really blame them when the characters themselves are this blandly written.

Extreme sports fans may find something to enjoy here but everyone else – and most especially fans of the original film – would do well to stay far, far away. If you do watch it though, might I suggest watching it with the sound turned all the way down.

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