Ericson Core’s version of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 cult surfing-themed Point Break is on a completely different wavelength, but that could simply be because the remake isn’t even trying to compete with the effortlessly cool original. Core’s very earnest and humourless movie is aimed at fans of extreme sports and addicts of viral videos featuring impossible and death-defying feats. The 114-minute thriller aims to evoke nothing more than a “did-you-just-see-that” reaction. Motorcross drivers, wingsuit fliers, surfers, free rock climbers and snowboarders all line up to present heart-stopping and fabulously performed stunts that defy gravity, physics and, at times, logic.
The film wobbles precariously on terra firma, and doesn’t quite know what to do with its supposed real heroes or its preposterous plot. But at least Core has chosen his actors well: like in Bigelow’s thriller, both Luke Bracey (playing Utah) and Edgar Ramirez (as Bodhi, played by Patrick Swayze in the older production) are attractive tattooed and well-muscled specimens of manhood. Ramirez, the better actor of the two, makes a magnetic Bodhi, even if his mission is strange, to say the least: he is a Greenpeace activist with Red Bull in his veins. Bodhi is following in the footsteps of a Japanese eco-terrorist who has worked out an eight-fold path to enlightenment that involves being one with the forces of nature through the route of extreme sports. Each sport is supposed to be an ordeal, but that’s like saying that you watch the Matrix movies to learn about Buddhism.
Utah stumbles into this world from the edge of a cliff where we first meet him, waiting to drive his bike towards either permanent paralysis or glory. Utah makes it across the chasm, but his buddy doesn’t. Months later, a guilt-ridden Utah has left the world of extreme motocross behind him and is interviewing for a job at the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His boss (Delroy Lindo) tells him that if he wants to prove himself, he should use his previous experience to crack the daredevil theft of diamonds from a seemingly impregnable high-rise. Without any clues, Utah divines that the group is following the eight-fold path. He soon meets Bodhi on the crest of a wave, and it is love at first sight.
The original Point Break featured a cornball romance between Keanu Reeves’s Utah and the spiky-haired Lori Petty, and there is a token female in the new movie too, but the real sparks fly between Bodhi and Utah as they test the limits of endurance and their trust for each other. The movie flounders when it’s not in mid-flight, and the absence of memorable dialogue or sexiness, both of which were plentiful in Bigelow’s film, means that we can’t wait for Bodhi and his band of hirsute seekers to gather at the edge of something – a cliff, a rockface, the ocean – and defy the laws of nature. Every time they get back to earth, the pointlessness of this remake reaches breaking point.