Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 21, 2016)
You know what makes me feel old? When movies from my childhood get remade. You know what makes me feeler even older? When movies from my twenties get remade.
Today’s Confrontation with My Impending Mortality comes to us via 2015’s Point Break, a remake of the 1991 Kathryn Bigelow film. After the death of his pal Jeff (Max Thieriot), extreme athlete/adrenaline junkie John “Johnny Utah” Brigham (Luke Bracey) goes straight and becomes an FBI agent. Utah learns about a group of thieves who do the Robin Hood thing: during exotic stunts, they steal valuables and donate them to the needy.
They also do this as part of the “Ozaki 8”, a series of extreme sport stunts that seems to be unachievable. Utah realizes that they’ve gotten through three of the eight, and that activity four will require surfing.
When he attempts to take on a massive wave, Utah meets “eco-warrior” Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez), the man who turns out to lead the gang of thieves. Utah infiltrates the group and works on the case while he deals with potential challenges to his loyalty.
No one ever confused the 1991 Point Break for a great movie, but it offered silly fun. The film never took itself especially seriously and it benefited from that attitude, as it delivered enough action and thrills to entertain.
By contrast, the 2015 Break comes with much bigger delusions of grandeur. I won’t say it packs itself with pretensions, but with its emphasis on “eco-warriors” and the spiritual quest, it feels more than a little full of itself. Yeah, the original sported some of that emphasis as well, but it didn’t seem quite as infatuated with its own self-righteousness.
The 2015 Break also comes utterly devoid of the originals spirit. Again, I won’t make out the 1991 film to be any sort of classic, but it did muster reasonable vivacity and verve. The remake lacks any of the same goofy elan, as it seems overly somber and self-serious.
Granted, I should probably appreciate the filmmakers’ efforts to deviate from the prior film’s template. It focuses on the same bones as the 1991 flick but creates enough differences to let it exist as its own entity.
Unfortunately, the results fail to intrigue or entertain. Again, that sense of self-seriousness becomes oppressive, which means we never find ourselves involved in the proceedings. We follow Utah, Bodhi and the others on their adventures but don’t invest in any of these.
It doesn’t help that the stunts/action scenes seem strangely lifeless. Some of these elements boast real potential to dazzke, but they come across as oddly flat. Intellectually, I recognize the thrills on display, but emotionally, these scenes don’t connect, so no excitement ensues.
The characters remain flat and turgid, and the actors fail to bring any personality to them. They stick with that overly sober, dramatic sensibility that ensures the roles remain dull. It’s hard to feel tension when you don’t care of characters live or die. The participants seem so morose and anonymous that no emotion results.
Break also seems to forget to include a plot. Isn’t Utah supposed to be an FBI agent on the trail of criminals? You’ll be forgiven if you forget that narrative arc, as the filmmakers ignore it to an enormous degree.
Instead, we find endless scenes in which the characters look serious and spout New Age nonsense about enlightenment and whatnot. Point Break suffers from its inability to figure out what to do with its source material. That means it ends up as boring and ponderous without an ounce of excitement on display.