Remakes are tricky. Especially when you’re redoing a movie that is widely considered to be one of the best bad movies ever made, Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 action thriller Point Break. Starring the late Patrick Swayze at the height of his dreamy, movie star Swayze-ness as the charismatic leader of a gang of surfing bank robbers and Keanu Reeves as a rookie FBI agent named Johnny Utah, the original Point Break has become something of a cult classic over the years. In fact, the film was so popular that it even spawned the interactive stage production Point Break Live! where a random audience member was selected from the crowd each night to read Reeve’s part from cue cards in all its wooden, dude-ish glory. And now, twenty-five years later, the movie that introduced the world to the blissed-out, stoner zen of adventure sports like surfing and skydiving has been remade by the cinematographer of The Fast and the Furious.
And if you think that sounds like a marriage made in bad movie heaven, you’re halfway right. For while Break’s director/cinematographer Ericson Core is definitely the right man for the job on the action sequence front – Break features some pretty amazing stunts, most of which were gorgeously shot in a host of breathtakingly beautiful locales around the world – his skills in the directing department are sorely lacking at best and downright awful at worst. And I don’t just mean awful awful, I’m talking laugh-out-loud, howlingly-bad filmmaking at its bloody worst. Simply put, this needless, pointless Point Break remake is a total train wreck from start to finish.
Of course, that’s not all Core’s fault. Break’s meandering, overly serious script by Kurt Wimmer –based on a story by Wimmer, Rick King and W. Peter Iliff, the duo who penned the original film – plays more like a stoney, YOLO-babble GoPro clip than a movie. And newcomer Luke Bracey’s performance as the film’s digital age Johnny Utah is so bad he’ll actually make you yearn for Keanu’s hollow, dead-eyed performance from the original.
If there is one saving grace in this rejiggered Break it’s that in opening up the film and making the bad guys more worldly and international, Break becomes a virtual love letter to extreme sports-loving adventure travelers everywhere. The big-wave surfing sequence in Tahiti is stunning and I defy you to watch the gang flying through the Swiss Alps in wingsuits or free climbing Angel Falls in Venezuela without at least peaking at the price of roundtrip airfare to either locale online. But, sadly, pretty pictures and a few cool action set pieces does not a satisfying inflight movie experience make, even with cameos by extreme sports legends like big-wave surfer Laird Hamilton and rock climbing icon Chris Sharma.
And though Edgar Ramirez (Carlos, Joy) does inject some much-needed star wattage in his scenes as the newly reinvented, more philosophically minded Swayze character, Bodhi, even he can’t save this self-helpy, New Age dreck from itself. To be fair, Bigelow’s original Break had its share of laughably earnest, “Hollywood deep” moments, but they were more fun and goofy than anything else, and at the end of the day, Bigelow never forgot that deep down, her film was about a gang of surfing bank robbers.
Here, it feels like Core and company get so wrapped up in the epic extreme sports stunts and scenery that they forget what kind of movie they’re actually making. And once you do that, well, dude, you’re deader than Bodhi surfing that final perfect wave to nirvana.
Now playing on select American Airlines, Air France, Turkish Airlines, EVA Air and Virgin Atlantic flights worldwide, Point Break is also available via streaming at iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Video.