It takes a very special director to make scenes of sky-diving, free climbing, big-wave surfing and BASE jumping something to yawn at. Yet Ericson Core must be that kind of miracle worker, because Point Break, his update of the 1991 film, is essentially a cavalcade of extreme sports, but with less drama than a highlight reel.
Written by Kurt Wimmer, the remake has the same basic architecture of the original. There’s still an FBI agent named Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey, taking over for Keanu Reeves), who goes undercover to investigate a string of crimes. And Johnny still gets starry-eyed after meeting a brawny, mystical anarchist named Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez, standing in for Patrick Swayze).
As in the original, there’s even a scene where Johnny shoots his gun into the air while yelling. Yet this is a completely different movie, because Wimmer and Core seem to think that what people loved about the first Point Break wasn’t the cheesy dialogue or the bromance-induced moral conundrum, but all of the adrenaline.
A rush, it turns out, only goes so far. A little more character development, for example, wouldn’t hurt.
In the updated version, Johnny used to be an extreme poly-athlete, specializing in dirt biking and winter sports. But an accident years ago shifted his priorities, and he wound up in the FBI. Still, his plethora of tattoos are in-your-face evidence that he can only put his past so far behind him.
In his new career, Johnny has been monitoring a group of Robin Hood-esque criminals who carry out over-the-top heists, such as robbing a bank on the top floor of a skyscraper, then breaking through the windows on motorcycles and parachuting to safety; or relieving an airplane of stacks of cash, then making it rain money on a remote village.
Johnny has it all figured out. These criminals are less interested in the money than in completing the “Ozaki Eight,” a series of death-defying trials that honor the forces of nature. It’s up to Johnny to infiltrate the group and try to stop them before they go through with their next job.
That is, if he doesn’t fall for Bodhi first – in a purely platonic way.
Some of the visuals are truly spectacular, most notably a five-minute sequence in which a group of people wearing wingsuits sail through the air around the Alps after throwing themselves off the Jungfrau. But where the earlier film was punctuated by action, this new, all too self-important version is the opposite. The story is an afterthought.
One chase sequence takes place during a climb up the face of a craggy rock wall beside Angel Falls in Venezuela. Yes, the athleticism is stunning. But climbing is not a fast-paced activity, making the chase look hilariously sluggish. The scene is less reminiscent of The Fast and the Furious than a nature documentary about turtles.
That set piece might have seemed like a good idea on paper. On the big screen, as with the rest of the movie, action just isn’t enough.
PG-13 for perilous activity, some sexuality, strong language and drug use. 1:53. 2D and 3D: Fayette Mall, Frankfort, Georgetown, Hamburg, Nicholasville, Richmond, Winchester, Woodhill.