With the continuing success of franchises like The Fast and the Furious, Hollywood is looking to cash in on the extreme sports action genre. But instead of coming up with an original idea, and having seemingly plundered all their properties from the 80’s, the studios have simply decided to steal the name and plot from a beloved genre film from the early 90s: Point Break.
So, is it any good?
Before I get into the bad, let me first point out the things that are good about Point Break:
– It’s well shot
– The locations are pretty
Right, now we’ve got that sorted, let’s explore why the new Point Break fails on almost every level as a satisfying action film.
What usually sets a film apart from say, a commercial, is that it has things like character and plot development, people you can relate to or a story you can get invested in. But from the very first sequence of Point Break, its clear that the emphasis here is all style and no substance. In place of the originals relatively simple story of a wayward gang being investigated for bank robbery by the FBI, we’re given an overly complicated plot involving a secret group who travel the world climbing mountains, surfing and just generally being extreme in their mission to complete the Ozaki 8: a series of ordeals designed to push an individual to their physical limit. This same group may or may not be behind a series of recent heists which they believe is a way of “giving back to mother earth”…or something. The initial conceit kind of makes sense: This film’s Utah (Luke Bracey) must of course win the group’s trust in order to uncover the true motifs behind the crimes and collect evidence for the FBI. But as the story progresses, these plot threads become increasingly murky, and by the end its as if the filmmakers have given up entirely on paying off what they set up in the first act. Not to mention that the audience is given no reason to care about either Utah or the leader of the group he’s pursuing (Edgar Ramirez). Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves they ain’t.
I almost lost count of the number of cringe-worthy lines there were in Point Break, and unlike movies like Independence Day, there’s no indication these are intended to be taken in a tongue in cheek manner. It’s almost as if the filmmakers took the script from the original Point Break, appropriated dialogue from an un-made porn film, smashed the two together and said “That’ll do!”. What made the original film so much fun is that it knew exactly what it was, and didn’t pretend to be anything more than an enjoyable action film with some memorable quotes. Hell, even the first Fast and The Furious movie raised a wry smile or too, something this version of Point Break never achieves. Amongst a sea of cliche ridden clangers, this has to be favourite quote in the film…
“If a tree falls in the forest, and it doesn’t end up on YouTube, did it ever happen?”
Token reference for the millennials – check!
There’s a sequence in Point Break when two characters are going toe-toe-toe whilst surfing a once in a lifetime break. It should be a jaw dropping moment, if it weren’t for the unmistakable sight of the actors’ heads poorly rotoscoped onto a pair of stunt doubles, making them look more like South Park characters than humans. This isn’t the only example of poorly executed CG in the film, but the bigger issue here is the lack of any real stakes in any of the film’s big action scenes. Had we cared more about these characters, or had their physical ordeals been set up effectively, we might have been more exhilarated by the set pieces dotted throughout. Its clear that a lot of talented extreme sports athletes were involved in the making of Point Break, but watching them do tricks without any real sense of danger or influence on the film’s plot makes it hard for us to care.
Even if you’re usually a fan of watching well shot footage of extreme sports junkies doing extreme things, I’d recommend YouTubing the latest Red Bull commercial rather than spending your money on Point Break. I guess the only thing we can be thankful for is that Patrick Swayze isn’t still around to witness this cinematic wipe out.