POINTBREAK. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Movie Review: “Point Blank” Laments for the Road Not Taken

In many ways, “Point Break” is already starting at a deficit. For one thing, despite the studios’ best intentions, it is unclear exactly what it is meant to be in relation to the original. Is it a remake or a sequel? The director and the actors contend that it is it’s own modern remake, but in this endeavor the results are less than perfect. It’s not supposed to be a sequel, yet given the long shadow of the original, this might have been the easier sell if it truly wanted to stand on it’s own. Indeed, it might have been much fresher and more interesting to see what Johnny Utah and Bodhi would be doing if Bodhi had actually survived that huge swell. However, this current “Point Break” in attempting to be a viable remake has taken on more than it can chew. Due to the fact that the most successful emotional plot points are straight steals from the original, this film is locked in an unfortunate death grip with the original when it comes to momentum. Just when the audience might be willing to accept the newer but confusing and unfocused storyline, this remake runs back to rehash some signature moment from the original – reminding us tragically of everything that this movie isn’t. The handicap of this constant comparison with one of the best male bonding stories in cinema kills any fighting chance that “Point Break” 2015 might have had to escape not being good enough to step out of the shadow of it’s more compelling predecessor.

Even without those pesky comparisons to the original, when it comes down to plot and just about everything else, “Point Break” still is not a very good film. The lone female character, Samsara, played by Teresa Palmer, is boring eye candy, though not necessarily due to anything that Palmer has or hasn’t done as an actor.  Samsara is sold to us as a free spirited hippy, but instead of being a rebel she just puts everything on hold for the uninterested men to whom she has strangely tethered herself in an almost 1950’s style servitude. She has no existence outside of waiting around for her extreme guy pals to show up so she can cook for them or have sex with them, which isn’t as visually interesting as you might expect it to be. When she finally does do something in the film, it’s a flat result as we don’t really know her well enough to care.

As for the stars of the show, Utah and Bodhi just aren’t well defined enough for us to understand why they have been placed on the pedestals they inhabit in their two diametrically opposed towers of power. For one, as an audience we never really see Utah, played by Australian actor Luke Bracey, earn his FBI stripes. Instructor Hall, played as well as possible by Delroy Lindo, abruptly tells Utah that he doesn’t believe that he has what it takes to be an agent. Almost immediately after this declaration with little happening in between, Hall is suddenly willing to bet his entire departmental career on Utah’s abilities undercover. As for Bodhi, actor Edgar Ramirez is directed way too close to the vest and emotionally withholding for us to understand why his grownup group of lost boys is willing to literally and figuratively jump over the edge of the cliff with him at a moments notice. For this film to blow us out of the water like the original, both Utah and Bodhi need to be able to win us over as two irresistible poles constantly fighting to right themselves within their respective worlds. In this reincarnation the necessary framework just isn’t there for this to happen.

However, if there is one redeeming quality in “Point Break”, it is the action. When Bodhi, Utah and the whole gang are jumping off of that cliff or into that crevasse, it is aching real and awe-inspiring. There is nary an inch of green screen in all things action and this dedication to the extreme makes the film something to see in the theater – provided one understands the other deficits and is willing to forgive them for an action experience that more than rivals what was done when Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze were ruling the roost. Indeed, when the film opens, the visual scope blows you back on your proverbial back if nothing within the story itself succeeds in coming close to such raw and unadulterated beauty.

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