“If a tree falls in the forest and no one puts it on YouTube, did it really happen?”
This is an actual line of dialogue, delivered with total sincerity, from Ericson Core’s remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break. It’s one of several dumb “wisdoms” suggested by a screenplay that’s littered with bubblegum philosophy. But if you’re OK with the pseudo-Zen sentimentality of the insta-upload message in that statement, then the shallowness of this derivative and unnecessary reboot might not bother you as much as it did me. The original Point Break wasn’t Shakespeare, by any means. But it was never insultingly stupid. This is.
Core’s Point Break essentially takes the outline of the 1991 genre thriller starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, but translates it for an audience that has chugged 15 Monster Energy drinks and stayed up for a week mainlining Dude Perfect videos. In the process, Core misunderstands everything that was important to the original film, believing that ramping up the “EXTREME” at every turn will lead to a more rewarding experience. It isn’t. It’s exhausting. Remember the exciting skydiving sequence in the original? This time out, you are going to get large-scale skydiving, surfing and motorcross stunts in the first 15 minutes! But the skydiving sequence from the first movie mattered because by the time it arrived, you cared about the characters involved in the stunt. The new Point Break people have as much depth as actors in a Mountain Dew ad.
Right off the bat, Point Break 2015 makes a fundamental error in setting up Johnny “Utah” (Utah is a nickname this time out, which makes no sense). Keanu Reeves’ version of the character in 1991 was a former athlete but a clean-cut and dedicated FBI agent who reluctantly joined a group of surfers suspected of robbing banks wearing masks of dead Presidents. (The crooks wear similar masks in one scene of the reboot, and never again, because the remake doesn’t get why that gimmick was important.) When Reeves’ Utah gets pulled into the wake of Patrick Swayze’s Bodhi, it goes against everything that Utah stands for, setting up an internal conflict that transcended the impressive stunts.
Point Break 2015 paints “Utah” (Luke Bracey) as a former extreme-sports addict who recognizes the actions of Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez) and his crew because they behave the way that he one did. No internal conflict. No stakes in the game. It’s strange, too, how after one criminal mission at the start of the movie, Bodhi and his team of elite athletes stop committing crimes (hence, the lack of presidential masks) and really don’t create any conflict that would need the FBI… taking the wind out of the movie’s sails. We’re left with new versions of Bodhi and Utah, and the comparisons between the original and the remake – which are inevitable when reviewing this movie – show how wrong this remake is. Swayze’s Bodhi was a charismatic Zen flame drawing Keanu’s moth. Ramirez’s Bodhi belongs more to the tattoo-and-leather Euro-trash category of extreme-stunt seekers. There’s far less appeal – to both him, and to the movie.
Is Point Break 2015 bigger than the original? Yep. Where Kathryn Bigelow limited her action to the sleepy beach communities of Southern California (for the most part), Core’s Point Break is a global affair that has “Utah” chasing Bodhi to the far-reaches of the Earth to stop him from… well, again, he’s not really committing any crimes, so I’m not sure why the FBI is so hellbent on bringing Bodhi to justice. The members of Bodhi’s gang are interchangeable and forgettable. Teresa Palmer has a painfully thankless role as the Mother Hen of the gang, cooking meals for The Boys after they complete their missions, and sleeping with “Utah” because the script thinks it needs an emotional conflict. Does bigger mean better? Nope. Because really, how often does “bigger” equal “better” when it comes to Hollywood remakes?
“Let’s just be here.” That’s another pearl of wisdom spoken by a serene criminal in Point Break 2015. When you are at the movie deciding what to see, however, you should just be anywhere else.