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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Point Break

This remake of an action classic lacks the fun, thrills and humour of the original.
By Sarah Ward
January 03, 2016
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Point Break

This remake of an action classic lacks the fun, thrills and humour of the original.
By Sarah Ward
January 03, 2016
  shares

During the Point Break remake, a gang of adrenaline junkies contemplate their next fix. Staring up at a mountain they're about to base jump from, they discuss their limits — or "the point where you break". Dialogue isn't exactly this movie's strong point. Yes, the film expands its remit and titular reference beyond the realm of surfing that was so integral to its 1991 predecessor. No, it's not a smart move. The latest Point Break is as lacklustre as everything that comes out of its characters' mouths, despite its best efforts to distract audiences with scenes of spectacle.

In broad terms, the story remains roughly the same: a freshly minted FBI agent tracks a gang of thieves whose crimes are tied to their thrill-seeking antics. Cue an undercover operation that tests the cops-versus-robbers divide, as Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) is seduced by the swagger of ringleader Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez). This time, Bodhi and his cronies don't just surf and skydive, but snowboard, glide and free-climb too. Seeking spiritual fulfillment, they're attempting to complete the holy grail of death-defying endeavours, known as the Ozaki Eight. Their accompanying heists are designed to give back what they're taking in the process, redistributing the wealth to the poverty-stricken, Robin Hood-style.

As a standalone feature, it all makes for the kind of slick film that leans heavily on what's being seen rather than what's being said. When the expositional or faux-philosophical chatter gets grating, up pops a daredevil act; when the script can't quite find a way to move forward, or anything for its characters to do, the same trick is deployed. It's the "look over there!" approach to filmmaking, and while it provides some striking sights, their purpose as filler is never in doubt. With the central bromance weak and the law-and-order side of things formulaic, Point Break becomes little more than a fast-paced, choppily edited mash-up of extreme sports videos and any template police procedural you can think of.

Moreover, as a remake of a beloved, breezy '90s action classic, the film fares even worse. In reimagining the Keanu Reeves/Patrick Swayze effort about stoner surfers trying to finance their endless summer, director-cinematographer Ericson Core (Invincible) and writer Kurt Wimmer (Total Recall) clearly think that bigger is better — and that's where their thinking stops. Core has actually toyed with this kind of material before, lensing the car-oriented riff that is The Fast and The Furious. But where that flick spawned a successful franchise, this rehash just peddles in tedium. Sure, he ramps up the stakes, stunts, locations and backstory, adds the requisite updates and throws in a few overt winks and nods (including one that Hot Fuzz did better). But he also strips the feature of its fun, thrills, humour and personality in the process.

Indeed, never has there been a movie in greater need of Reeves saying "whoa", Swayze's oozing charm, or Gary Busey being Gary Busey than this choppy dip into been-there, done-that territory. Among the next gen performers, only Ramírez stands out. Aussie actor Bracey plays his role not just blankly but blandly, Ray Winstone phones in his turn as a London-based officer, and Teresa Palmer's love interest appears to exist purely to give someone female a speaking part. To say that this version of Point Break is a wipeout might be a cliché, but it's also the dull reality — and the film doesn't try to inspire anything more than that.

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