(M) Directed by Ericson Core
Starring Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Ray Winstone
By Ben McEachen
What's the point of a new version of Point Break, one of the '90s most distinct and beloved action films? I'm still not sure, even though I slumped through the bigger budgeted remake.
A mere 25 years after the original, the new Point Break updates the motivation of the core criminals and amplifies environmental concerns. Provocative topics arise, such as the complexities of social justice and personal responsibility, as well as the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment. There's even calls to let yourself go and shed materialism, as if Jesus or Buddha or Frozen are being remixed.
All this existential stuff threatens to tap into issues that burn constantly in our society. As if Point Break 2.0 will be a thinking person's action outing. But despite suggesting there's more depth to this cat-and-mouse game between an FBI agent and a hippie 'Robin Hood', the stiff remake has sadly ripped the soul out of what it's ripping off. Any messages about being set free by truth or giving yourself over to a higher cause will only prompt bored viewers to consider alternatives elsewhere.
Another Australian actor who has left Home and Away and headed international, Luke Bracey's first major lead role has him stepping into Keanu Reeves' shoes. Playing FBI rookie Johnny Utah who must infiltrate a gang of high-octane thieves, underwhelming Bracey is way less “whoa” than Reeves. No, that's not a good thing. Along with this needless remake taking itself too seriously and not maximising new ideas, its major flaw is the lack of chemistry and gravity at its heart.
Certainly, the original Point Break offers much to snigger or eye-roll at, including the interplay between Reeves' dude cop and the dude criminal Bodhi (played enjoyably by Patrick Swayze). But the “whoa” and “bro” pairing of Reeves and Swayze is one of Point Break's weapons. Unable to provide the same ammunition are Bracey and co-star Edgar Ramirez, bringing little personality to director Ericson Core's oddly straightfaced update. Remarkably, there's also not much humour, or cheeky winks to the original.
As Core crams in as many extreme sports as is humanly possible, his Point Break descends into being an infomercial for death-defying pursuits. Utah pushes the envelope because he's meant to be proving Bodhi and his merry men are causing economic anarchy, but this 'Robin Hood' premise fades into the background. The meaty motivations for Point Break's slew of stunts aren't allowed to flower, compounding our distance from action sequences that curiously lack energy and thrills.
Getting 2016's cinema offerings off to a tepid start, Point Break's most positive contribution only can be found by searching for it. When you work hard to gather up the breadcrumbs of philosophy and spirituality, what emerges is quite a fascinating collage of relatable approaches to life.
Bodhi's chilled advocacy of ditching materialism and seeking to be better united with the world around him appeals to plenty of us. As much as we enjoy the blessings of 1st World living and want to marry technology, the sustained deterioration of our planet – and our consciences – has given rise to everything from the obsession with organic, to crusading against environmental destruction.
But Bodhi also believes ends justify the means and it's silly to hold everyone to the same moral standards. Instead, we are all on our own “path”. So, even if someone else does wrong by us, they're not to blame because when we're on our own path, we make all our own choices. Including, apparently, the things outside our control that other people do to us.
Surprisingly, Utah challenges this logic. You might do the same, as Bodhi's call to let go of the things of the world means not accepting responsibility for how our actions impact others. Um, okay. Sure. What? But such holes in Bodhi's patchwork philosophising are unexpected prompts for seeking answers that hold more water. Because if you take some time to mull over one of his most tantalising suggestions, there's a lot to be intrigued by.
Bodhi is a fan of letting go. Giving up on the baggage of life, to reach ultimate potential as someone free from what we become enslaved to. Those things that control and anchor us, preventing our souls from soaring. Point Break doesn't attempt to go into detail about what is meant by all this talk. It's not actually trying to help us reach such a “higher” state. Yet, admit it, there is resounding appeal in the notion of being able to get over ourselves, and live for something far greater than us.
As much as we're into ourselves, we know we're only one piece in an universal jigsaw that surely must form a bigger picture than me or you.
At this soul-quaking point, Point Break drops us like a hot potato. Those left seeking satisfaction will need to look elsewhere for real, sound and supported directions to the sort of selfless existence Bodhi hints at.
I found such directions in the teachings and actions of Jesus because, unlike movies or other religious leaders, Jesus backs up his “whoever wants to save their life will lose it” promises (Mark 8:34-38). What can sound like claptrap or fancy words is found to be vastly more when this man who claimed to be The Truth demonstrates just how trustworthy his guidance is.