From the Archives: Point Break review

From the Archives: Point Break review

In the interest of getting “hard” copies of my work under one roof, I plan to spend the next few weeks posting the entire archive of my film journalism here on ScullyVision. With due respect to the many publications I’ve written for, the internet remains quite temporary, and I’d hate to see any of my work disappear for digital reasons. As such, this gargantuan project must begin! I don’t want to do it. I hate doing it. But it needs to be done. Please note that my opinions, like everyone’s, have changed a LOT since I started, so many of these reviews will only represent a snapshot in time. Objectivity has absolutely no place in film criticism, at least not how I do it. 

Without further ado, I present to you: FROM THE ARCHIVES.
Originally posted on Cinema76.

Just who, exactly, is a remake of Point Break being made for anyway? Fans of the original? No, most certainly not. They’ll find it to be unnecessary. A new audience? No, most certainly not. They’ll find it to be a middling action picture with very little personality. No one? Yeah, that’s probably the answer. A remake of Point Break is a futile exercise in the entertainment of no one.

This isn’t to say that it’s bad. It’s not. It’s just wholly pointless. As a sizzle reel for stunt-work and action direction, there is a lot to enjoy. More than a few sequences had me gasping in awe of the bravado on display (the wingsuit flight an obvious standout). And it was quite nice to see a series of slick action scenes that were, unlike in many higher-caliber films, coherent. This Ericson Core fellow, who really missed an opportunity to call himself “HardCore,” has a future in this kind of thing.

Before I dig too deep into the film – and really, how far can you go? – let me be clear when I say that the original Point Break is not a very good movie. I love it with every fiber of my being, but it is most certainly not good. From front to back it’s hammy machismo at its hammiest and most macho. It’s the type of movie that seems to be made as eye candy for women, but was instead wholly embraced by men, who found the bromance triangle at the center of it to be oddly compelling (the female version of this is Coyote Ugly). Please do not misunderstand me when I say this, as I watch Point Break at least once a year, every year, but I firmly believe that the cult status of the film exists solely because it’s bad in a very fun way. This can be attributed heavily to the fact that Keanu Reeves hadn’t learned to act yet, and Gary Busey was fresh out of having his head reattached after his big motorcycle accident.

And thats the disconnect between the original and the remake. The 1991 film had a few action sequences, but the scope for each was small. Instead, the appeal came from the story and the characters. The remake, however, puts most of its energy into creating some epic action sequences, and is content to leave the story and characters on the drawing board. They’re not phoned in or anything, but the development is minimal. The original and the remake are two different beasts with wholly different intentions. But being a remake, there are some similarities:

– Utah fires a gun into the air and goes “Aaaaaaaah!” because he respects his target soooo much.

– Bodhi is all about finding Nirvana (but much less about beach football in the remake)

– Perhaps the most famous line from the original is when Utah reveals himself to Bodhi by exclaiming “I. AM AN FBI … AGENT!” In the remake, when about to engage in some unprofessional behavior, he reminds himself “you are an FBI … agent.” I’ll take it!

– Many characters make illogical choices seemingly in the name of being as “extreme” as possible.

– Both films feature a scene where Utah tells Bodhi “It’s over! It’s all over!”

It’s weird. The remake does seem to “get” the original film (most of all, Luke Bracey, whose Utah suggests that he’s actually a good actor making the choice to appear bad at acting), but it cannot make a case for why it needs to exist, mostly because it doesn’t. And how, how, HOW is it possible to not have a scene in which Pappas (Ray Winstone, completely sidelined, BTW) eats a meatball sandwich? How?!?!? I’m not asking for him to have two sandwiches and a lemonade (which would not have been hard), just one! “Utah, get me one!” I’d have happily settled for that. Oh well.

So do I recommend seeing the film? Actually, yes. Yes I do.

Point Break opens today in Philly area theaters.

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