Point Break

 

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A remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 cult classic is given the international, big-budget treatment, but  ends up being disappointingly flat and soulless.

 

As obesity levels rise on both sides of the Atlantic, a new breed of physicality is beating a different drum. A growing number of thrill seekers – or “polyathletes” – are pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible. In Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 action-thriller Point Break, a set of surfer dudes doubled up as a gang of bank robbers calling themselves “the ex-Presidents” and are infiltrated by FBI rookie Johnny Utah. Utah, then played by Keanu Reeves, was an ex-footballer who had to learn how to surf in order to pass muster with the gang, headed by the athletic Zen idealist Bodhi, played by Patrick Swayze.

 

The new film ups the ante by turning the surfer dudes into daredevils of far more reckless inclination, “eco-warriors” who turn their hand to skydiving, wingsuiting, skiing, snowboarding, free rock climbing and motocross action. But these guys are no ordinary bank robbers – they call themselves “liberators.” Following the eight principles – or “ordeals” – of their ideological mentor Ono Osaki, they are bent on improving the prospects of the planet. So they sprinkle a hundred million dollars’ worth of diamonds over a village in Mumbai and scatter an equal amount of dollar bills over a settlement in Mexico. In the philosophical words of the all-new Bodhi, played by the Venezuelan actor Édgar Ramirez, “we have to give more than we take.” So, these guys are Robin Hoods of the sky and Ericson Core's remake a sort of Fast and Generous.

 

Point Break

Tripping the height fantastic: Édgar Ramirez as Bodhi

 

The prologue certainly sets the tone, a heart-stopping sequence not recommended to the acrophobic, while most of the subsequent stunts will give David Blaine nightmares. But cunning stunts will only take an audience so far. Our new Johnny Utah is something of a blank space, played like a disgruntled Country & Western singer by the Australian actor Luke Bracey. The latter cut his acting teeth on the Aussie soap Home and Away and the 2014 Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Best of Me. His romantic interest is provided by another Australian, Teresa Palmer, who will next be seen in the Nicholas Sparks adaptation The Choice. But sparks there are none.

 

In the supporting ranks, Ray Winstone is sorely wasted as a dishevelled British agent improbably called Angelo Pappas, while the best that Ramirez can do is look wistful. It’s a surprisingly soulless film, and a humourless one. With a budget of $105 million and locations including Austria, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, Tahiti, Venezuela, Arizona, Hawaii and Utah, it obviously took itself very seriously indeed. And the closing credits stretch to quarter of an hour. But after all that Point Break resembles nothing more than a two-hour drama on Channel Five punctuated by awesome commercial breaks.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Édgar Ramírez, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer, Delroy Lindo, Ray Winstone, Max Thieriot, Nikolai Kinski, Glynis Barber, Steve Toussaint, James Le Gros.

 

Dir Ericson Core, Pro John Baldecchi, Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove, Christopher Taylor, David Valdes and Kurt Wimmer, Screenplay Kurt Wimmer, Ph Ericson Core, Pro Des Udo Kramer, Ed John Duffy, Gerald B. Greenberg and Thom Noble, Music Junkie XL, Costumes Lisy Christl.

 

Alcon Entertainment/DMG Entertainment/Taylor/Baldecchi/Wimmer Production/Studio Babelsberg-Warner Brothers.

114 mins. USA/Germany/China. 2015. Rel: 5 February 2016. Cert. 12A.