Catch some waves.
Point Break is an interesting film. The interesting aspects of this film do not come from the plot, acting, or anything actually on screen, but rather how much a cultural touchstone this movie has become.
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (yeah I, too, was surprised) we can see some of her stylistic movements here that will later win her an Oscar. I have heard a few folks try to input an intellectual meaning onto the film, as though we must redeem a dumb action flick because the director won a major award. Point Break asks the question “what if a bunch of surfer bros also robbed banks?” and “what if the FBI sent in an undercover bro to catch them?” That is the extent of the intellectual limits of this film, and that is okay.
Something that seems to help this movie in its growing timeless status is the simple charm of the characters. Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey play our FBI agents who are trying to catch Patrick Swayze. Reeves acts about the same as he always does, a bit wooden, but somehow likable. If you hate Reeves, you’ll probably hate him in this film. I suppose I have never been a huge fan nor a detractor of him as an actor. He does well playing a dumbstruck-in-over-his-head dude in this one.
The narrative is a bit thin, but I don’t think it is more so than any other heist film. Bank robbers want money, whatever their reasons are. It all boils down to that. One aspect of this film that I like is that Swayze attempts to justify the robberies once it all starts going downhill for the criminals. We as the audience can see through his passionate idealism to see what he really is—a criminal, albeit an interesting one.
The film boasts impressive action segments that still hold up today. Seeing Swayze wearing a Ronald Reagan mask whilst using a make-shift flamethrower from a gas pump is pretty awesome. The sky diving segments (although ridiculous) are a bit of fun. Fun is the operative word when discussing this film. It has enough charm and cheese to not take itself too seriously, and the result is an enjoyable romp.
The negatives of the film are in part due to the genre. The norm of action films is a thin narrative with charming, but shallow characters. There isn’t a lot of ‘there’ here, and this means that most of what drives the fame of the film is nostalgia and the influences the film gave to others. In short, it certainly won’t change your life, but you won’t regret throwing on this show. 7.5/10
The remake of this film has been thoroughly roasted on “Rotten Tomatoes” already, so there probably aren’t many of you who are not familiar with the catastrophe this film is. However, why did this film fail on so many levels might require a bit more digging.
From the opening scene, it is clear that this film attempts to amp up every aspect of the original. Instead of just surfers, our robbers are ultra-extreme-athletes who do every sport imaginable. Johnny Utah is no longer a football star, but a bro who used to do extreme sports. They also chose to make Utah his nickname instead of just an unfortunate real name. I honestly can’t remember what his real name was (despite having just watched the movie).
Bigger action, shootouts, sports, boobs, and bro-stares don’t make a good film by any means. Oddly, the film also chooses to abandon the fun aspects of the original. Instead, we get a bunch of interchangeable characters looking sad while jumping off cliffs. Instead of laughing with the film, we laugh at it this time around.
The gritty reboot trend should be considered a genre of its own. Horror films tend to get away with this a bit more, as horror and comedy can bump into each other a bit easier. Contrasted with heist films, we either get buddy-like movies or deathly serious crime dramas. The leap from one type to another seems a bit wider in this case. Weak characters can ruin a film, and honestly I could not tell most of the characters apart. I genuinely believe the only reason I could recognize which one was Johnny Utah is due to Luke Bracey being the only blonde in the group. Otherwise the characters don’t matter, and their names are laughably bad; Grommet and Chowder. I wonder if Wallace and Biscuit were too busy.
The crappy characters can’t communicate any sort of ethical or emotional connection to the audience, so we get to watch a bunch of morons scowl their way across the globe. Potentially the most annoying aspect of the film is the absurd self-moralizing we get from the criminals. We know in the first one that Swayze is full of it when he says he doing this for anything other than financial gain. The makers of this version seem to have missed that memo. Now our robbers are modern day Robin Hoods, giving back to the planet by committing international crimes (some of which cross the line into environmental terrorism).
I am so sick of the bad guy justifying their actions. That isn’t how reality works. Our own ideologies dictate that we are right according to our own perspectives. We don’t go around trying to convince adversarial individuals or groups by parroting our own beliefs. Having the characters in this film just blurt out their socio-political opinions makes them all expositional robots who don’t matter. The villains in this work so hard to show that they are in the right that the whole film permeates a stench a fakeness.
Even dumber, by some sort of mystical magic, our bad guys knew that Utah was a cop as soon as he arrived. Um, no they didn’t. Here we can see magic via plot convenience. In a film as absurd as this it is almost like they were trying to shatter our suspension of disbelief.
Why was this film made? I have been quite lenient (and sometimes preferential) to remakes over the course of this review series; however, this one is just dumb. It isn’t a love letter to the original with better effects, and it doesn’t attempt to fulfill some sort of deficit in the original. We have a simple cash grab at best.
How they dragged Ray Winstone into this is something I don’t understand. Oddly, the one scene of the film that makes a decent point is led by him. He lectures Utah on the fact that crime solving is ugly, boring work, and not an endless party. Too bad the film decided to ignore that and kept chugging along with its stupid crap.
Oddly, there is a decent film in the making here (hear me out). Instead of remaking Point Break, why didn’t they make a film about environmental terrorists who do turn an FBI agent against their own government? That could be interesting. Granted, this would take more actual filmmaking and less cool shows of Brody McBrobros doing extreme sports. Burn this movie. 1/10