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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Point Break 2015 * * 1/2 Stars

Point BreakDirector: Ericson Core
Year: 2015
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Edgar Ramirez, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer

I don't consider Keanu Reeves to be the world's greatest actor. But in all honesty, he gives one of the best performances of his career (next to Speed) in 1991's favorable hit, Point Break. 24 years later, "Break" is being remade with Aussie Luke Bracey in the Reeves role. Sad to say though, Bracey doesn't equal Keanu's charisma or wide-eyed intensity. And the same goes for 2015's reworking in general. But hey, I've seen a lot worse of these second-runs to come down the pike. Case in point: Did anyone remember the modernized version of Poltergeist from last summer? Me neither.

Not coming off as shot-for-shot, not changing any of the persona's names, not using the same locales (the original was set in surrounding L.A. while 2015's version goes all over the globe), and directed by cinematographer Ericson Core, new crop Point Break focuses on extreme motocross star-turned-FBI-agent, Johnny Utah (played by Luke Bracey who appears to be channeling the lead singer of the grunge band Puddle Of Mudd). You see Utah feels responsible for the death of his best friend (years ago, buddy Jeff perished from a cliff via a motorbike mishap). He needs "structure" in his life so he vehemently decides to join the Bureau. His first assignment: Go undercover, accumulate enough evidence, and capture Bodhi (played by Edgar Ramirez) plus his merry band of badasses. In the original "Break", Bodhi and his crew wanted to quote unquote, "rob banks to finance their endless summer, whoa!" Cut to present day and surfer/snowboarder/fight club member Bodhisattva wants to conquer the Ono Osaki 8, a series of ordeals that honors the forces of nature. This somehow involves committing a lot of felonious activities (who knew). Now with the newfangled version, helmer Core provides cinematography that harbors a real silvery look. And if you're afraid of heights, it's best to look away during many a scene (I talked about these same aspects in my previous review of The Walk).

Anyway, as mentioned in the first paragraph, I stated that there are far worse remakes than the new Point Break. The two films are surprisingly dissimilar making this current reboot pretty much its own vehicle. In fact, if the original never existed, I would probably garner Point Break circa 2015 a higher rating. So OK, does that mean I'm gonna recommend it? Not quite. The original from 91' is epic. It's stronger in that it gives you the urge to view it multiple times (a cult classic is what I'm saying here). There are quotable lines of dialogue ("back off Warchild, seriously"), visceral gunfights staged by director Kathryn Bigelow, fleshed out characters, doses of mild humor, nuggets of snarky dialogue, original concepts, strong acting from the leads (Reeves and the late Patrick Swayze), and one bitch of a parachute-free, skydiving sequence. 2015's "Break" doesn't exactly contain these traits. Yeah, it's filmed well with a more straightforward narrative and scenery that if you pause it, looks like postcards. Plus, the action sequences are decent in that they're carried out with veritable aplomb. But Point Break redux (that's what I've decided to call it) sledgehammers lousily, a certain something. We as an audience, don't want to be diverted from important plot points to see extreme sports for the sake of extreme sports. This isn't X Games mind you, it's a movie. Bottom line: I give modern-day Point Break a strong two and a half star rating. I paid six dollars and attended a matinee screening to view it. Not a classic but I have zero regrets.

Of note: As I took in the slickly, up-to-date (Christmas Day) release that is Point Break, one of its characters constantly annoyed the bejesus out of me. That would be Angelo Pappas. In 1991's original, he was Johnny Utah's agent partner, a kooky, cigar-chomping blowhard with a devil-may-care attitude and an appetite for sloppy, meatball sandwiches. Gary Busey played him as though he was playing his own, eccentric self. Cut to 2015 and we have Ray Winstone as Pappas. Again he's an agent. He's scruffy, grumpy, and lights up the ol' tobacco. This time though, Angelo does almost nothing. Yeah he makes a phone call or two and judges Utah from afar. But in the grand scheme of things, he doesn't even get in on the action like Busey's Pappas gleefully did (he never manages to pull out his weapon). Next time don't sleepwalk through it all Ray. Also of note: I know I talked about Luke Bracey (earlier) not being right for the role of sunny bro Johnny Utah. He can act though. All you gotta do is check him out in 2014's The November Man. The dude shines co-starring alongside Pierce Brosnan. This is merely just food for thought.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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