Blu-ray Review: Point Break
Let’s say something really profound and quasi spiritual, bros.
We have an unusual relationship with the original Point Break. We don’t own it, and we haven’t seen it in years, but we enjoyed and was interested in it enough that our first GamerTag was some variant of Johnny Utah (played by Keanu Reeves). Upon seeing the trailers for the remake we were suitably intrigued, but does the final product prove itself to be a worthwhile extension of its predecessor?
A budding star in the world of extreme sports, Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) walks away after the death of a friend — a tragedy for which he feels responsible. He resurfaces in the FBI, in which his instructor, Hall (Delroy Lindo), questions his dedication and asks Utah to prove himself. This is done when Utah discovers a link in a series of high-risk crimes, opining the perpetrators to be extreme athletes.
Despite skepticism from many within the Bureau, Hall puts Utah into the field and sends him to rendezvous with Agent Pappas (Ray Winstone) in France. The two head out into the ocean where massive waves are forming, attracting the exact type of people Utah is looking for. While attempting to surf one of the waves Utah wipes out and is saved from drowning by Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez).
It turns out Bodhi is the leader of a group that is traveling around attempting the “Ozaki Eight,” which is a series of extreme ordeals to honour the forces of nature. Utah quickly figures out that these are the people he’s looking for and sets about infiltrating their ranks and gaining their trust. The question is whether he can stay on mission or be seduced back into the world of extreme.
Point Break really has two things going for it. First, the movie is beautiful. Traveling around the world to attempt the fictitious Ozaki Eight affords cinematographer/director Ericson Core the opportunity to shoot in amazing locations. Whether it’s the cliffs, walls of snow, thundering waves or the waterfall of Angel Falls in Venezuela, the scenery is consistently breathtaking.
Watching the stunts the team pulls off in these exotic locales is the movie’s other strength. The lengthy wingsuit flight is spectacular. Cutting loose tremendous stacks of money as they parachute down is a tremendous visual. The snowboarding, the motor biking, the free climbing… all of it is truly impressive, and they deserve a lot of credit for not relying on CGI.
Unfortunately, there’s little else to enjoy here. A largely no-name crew of actors lacks the star power that helped elevate the original beyond some of its inherent silliness. The dialogue is cringe worthy at times, and the eco-warrior stuff never really goes anywhere. We get it, they’re extreme and they live life by their rules. At nearly two hours, the movie sorely needed more depth in either the story or character development — it gets neither.
What’s more damning than that, however, is that Point Break is simply quite dull. As spectacular as the stunt sequences are they ultimately feel like watching somebody’s YouTube channel or an X-Games documentary. And in that way they come across as disconnected from the film, like five minutes of stunts followed by 20 minutes of inane, circular dialogue.
There’s basically one shootout in the whole film, and it’s never really clear if Utah is even a decent agent. Unlike the original, which told a “fish out of water” story about a collegiate quarterback learning to surf in an effort to locate a group of bank robbers, this Point Break has the character be a natural fit for the group from the start. So, this guy’s first ever assignment just happens to fit him like a glove? That’s not exactly compelling story building.
THE BONUS FEATURES
A handful of deleted scenes take top billing for a modest set of special features, including the one in which Pappas and Utah actually meet — yes, despite a 114-minute run time, Pappas just randomly appears driving a boat. There are four featurettes on some of the stunts, but at less than 10 minutes combined they represent a missed opportunity. In fact, talking snippets are cut so short there literally isn’t time to read the name of the person speaking.
A pair of theatrical trailers round things out, and rewatching those reminded us why we were excited for the film to begin with. They’re really effectively done, even though they paint an inaccurate portrait of how action packed the movie will actually be.
While Point Break features amazing locations and stunt work, those things aren’t enough to overcome the plodding pace, unrealistic dialogue and a cast sorely missing strong, identifiable leads.