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"POINT BREAK"
(2015) (Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Action: An FBI agent in training infiltrates a group of environmentally conscious, thrill-seeking criminals in hopes of stopping them before they strike again.
PLOT:
Following the death of his best friend, extreme athlete Johnny Utah (LUKE BRACEY) has decided to join the FBI and is close to becoming a full-fledged agent, all under the watchful eye of his instructor (DELROY LINDO). When a group of environmentally conscious, thrill-seeking criminals strikes again, but ends up giving away the $100 million worth of diamond they stole to the poor in Mumbai, Johnny thinks he knows what they're up to.

It seems they're completing a series of extreme, thrill-seeking endeavors known as the Ozaki 8, and knowing one of those is surfing once-in-a-lifetime waves, he convinces his handler to put him in the field despite not yet being a full-fledged agent.

He ends up teamed with crusty FBI agent Angelo Pappas (RAY WINSTONE) and the two head out to sea where they not only encounter said waves, but also Bodhi (EDGAR RAMIREZ) who saves the young man when he wipes out and appears headed for death. Sensing a kindred spirit in Johnny, Bodhi introduces him to others in his group including Chowder (TOBIAS SANTELMANN), Roach (CLEMENS SCHICK) and the alluring Samsara (TERESA PALMER), among others.

As he begins hanging out with them and increasingly participating in their extreme stunts and getting involved with Samsara, Pappas begins to worry that Johnny might be getting in too deep with the thrill seekers to do his job.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
My first real job in television production was for the U.S. Senate back in the 1980s. Despite being a publicly funded entity, we weren't spoiled with the latest in technology. In fact, our teleprompter was of the old paper feed variety, the one-inch tape decks were enormous, and the video cameras were monstrosities from a bygone era.

Things have changed a lot since then, with things improving vastly in quality while shrinking down to small to even miniature sizes. The same holds true for the filmmaking world and especially home video production. Between what can be shot on smartphones and the advent of the GoPro camera, professionals and amateurs alike can shoot some amazing stuff.

That includes extreme sports fanatics and general daredevils strapping the latter to their helmets or other parts of their body and then jumping, flying, surfing, zipping and more. The results are all over YouTube and likely have filmmakers of old thinking "Why didn't we have that back when I was lugging hundreds of pounds of camera gear to exotic locations?" and their newer brethren stating, "Hey, we could put something like that in our next film."

Having seen the various GoPro stunts of people flying along cliffs, through canyons and such, I can only imagine the folks in charge of the James Bond franchise likely thought such a stunt (and the easy way to capture that) would make a great opening for a future 007 pic. Alas, someone beat them to the punch, and that would be those behind "Point Break." While such a scene doesn't start the film (some BMX style mountain ridge riding does), the wingsuits make their appearance later on in the movie.

While that sequence is still pretty cool (especially as seen on the big screen compared to one's computer YouTube viewing of similar footage), it doesn't feel that novel to anyone who's already seen such stunts online. And the overall film isn't exactly that novel either, what with it being a remake (sorry, reboot) of the old 1991 film from Kathryn Bigelow (who'd go on to direct "The Hurt Locker" and "Zero Dark Thirty") that starred Keanu Reeves as an FBI agent trying to infiltrate a cultish band of nirvana seeking wave riders (led by Patrick Swayze) who just so happen to rob banks whilst wearing masks in the guise of former U.S. presidents.

Although not perfect and filled with testosterone-laden dialogue ("Young, dumb and full of cum" shouts Gary Busey at one point to Reeves' former college football star quarterback), the pic worked for what it was trying to be. The leads and their chemistry together really made it fly, and Bigelow's handling of all of that and the big action scenes made the flick a fun and sometimes exhilarating experience.

Unfortunately, and despite the wingsuit stunts and others, this new version is otherwise grounded. As directed by Ericson Core from Kurt Wimmer's adaptation of W. Peter Iliff's screenplay from the first film, the general story is pretty much the same, but for the most part it's just a pale imitation of the original movie.

It also doesn't make much sense. Following the accidental death of his best friend in the aforementioned opening scene, extreme sports daredevil Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) has decided to become an FBI agent. Why? Who knows, as that's never explained, which also holds true regarding why his supervisor (a wasted Delroy Lindo) agrees to Johnny's assessment about some environmentally conscious, thrill-seeking criminals who operate like modern day Robin Hoods.

Since they're also daredevils, who are apparently seeking nirvana through completing some oddball stunt regimen known as the Ozaki 8, who better to infiltrate them than the wannabe agent. So off he goes, despite not having a badge, with a crusty FBI agent (Ray Winstone) as his babysitter of sorts, and he quickly finds himself wingsuiting and more with Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez) and his followers.

Natch, he seems to be getting in too deep with them, and finds himself conflicted about what to do. And that's while bedding one member (Teresa Palmer) in a subplot romance that goes nowhere and pales considerably to the same in the original between Reeves and Lori Petty's characters. But the biggest problem is that Bracey and Ramirez aren't as good in their respective roles as Reeves and Swayze were the first time around. Those two epitomized what the Johnny Utah and Bodhi characters would look, feel and sound like.

That's not the case here, and beyond some of the stunts and related footage, you're not likely to find anywhere near the action-laced, testosterone-fueled nirvana that was the original film. Go back and watch or re-watch that one again rather than spend your time or money on this lame imitator. This new version of "Point Break" rates as a 3.5 out of 10.




Reviewed December 24, 2015 / Posted December 25, 2015


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