Point Break

Point Break

(M) Starring: Luke Bracey, Edgar Ramirez, Ray Winstone

Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break remains a guilty pleasure for many who watched as Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves journeyed on the beaches in 1991. Bigelow’s action outing was fun, cool and did not take itself too seriously. Even with some of the over-the-top writing and acting, it still manages to hold its own within the extreme-sport genre. To reproduce this cinematic magic is like asking for lightning to strike twice — in the same place.

The new version of Point Break begins with a tragic event which causes Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) to turn away from his life of being an extreme poly-athlete, to being an FBI agent. He endures seven years of university, law school and law enforcement training and is trying to find his place within the bureau. The opportunity to utilise his special skill set in his new profession comes during a briefing about a unique heist that is carried out by some extreme athletes. After studying their patterns, he determines that they are attempting to achieve the “Osaki 8”, a philosophy that promotes doing eight extreme ordeals to honour the forces of nature. With this in mind, the young FBI agent tracks down the group and manages to work his way into the inner circle. Through this familiar atmosphere and lifestyle, he comes to the point of needing to determine where his loyalties lie. Does he follow the magnetic leadership of Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez) and his band of merry men, or stay true to the world of law enforcement?

From the opening sequence, this version of  Point Break feels like a documentary about these extreme athletes. New director and cinematographer Ericson Core (Invincible) takes his troupe of extremists on a globetrotting adventure. They go to some of the most picturesque places in the world to perform their exploits of snowboarding, wing-suit flying, motocross and extreme surfing. Along the way, Core’s Point Break does attempt to also explore the mental, spiritual and physical experiences of this unique athletic community. Even if the viewer has limited experiences with this Red Bull existence, its lifestyle message of self-justification and self-indulgence quickly reveals its insatiably unforgiving nature and the lonely existence that most of the participants live. But showing this presents a problem for the filmmaker, because Point Break is not meant to be a documentary, but an action adventure.

Along with trying to provide depth to the storyline, Core also attempts to beef it up by intensifying the severity of the stunts. He places his actors and stuntmen in situations that defy logic and the laws of physics. With a nod towards the original story, the young director travels to captivating locations and attempts to rely on nature, stunts and pop-theology to drive this tale through to the end. Credibility and depth are hoped for by the inclusion of environmental and spiritual components, but these layers weigh down the whole experience to make this action adventure an unforgivably, lethargic ride. Also, because of the convoluted message, this edition of Point Break takes itself too seriously.

Bracey and Ramirez do not have enough charisma or cheekiness to provide the needed levity to allow this narrative to remain above the waves. Journeyman acting support comes from Ray Winstone (Noah) and he does bring some humorous moments, but even he cannot salvage this sinking ship. Unfortunately, great scenery and over-the-top stunts fail to mask a poorly executed story that takes the audience from ultimate extremes to lethargic apathy.

 

Leaving the cinema…

This rendition of Point Break was not extreme, enjoyable or entertaining, but it does provoke a multitude of talking points for extreme conversations afterwards. So, I’d suggest pulling out a copy of the 1991 original, and then have a discussion about the questions below.

 

What are some of the bigger questions to consider from this film?

Peeling back the layers of this laborious experience did provide a multitude of conversation starters. Sadly, the new Point Break doesn’t give any solid answers to the ideas that it spawns. To counter the lack of any satisfactory answers, here is an attempt to find the way out of its confusing pseudo-theological topics:

1. How far are we to go for environmental causes? Remember, God did leave mankind as the stewards of this world in Genesis. (Genesis 1:28, 1 Corinthians 4:2)

2. What is the Christian teaching about materialism? (Matthew 6:19-21, Hebrews 13:5)

3. What is our responsibility to our neighbours, friends and family? (Leviticus 19:8, Mark 12:31)

Questions to consider for yourself:

1) Who or what determines your ethical position in this world?

2) Does this life have any purpose and where do you place your faith?

 

Russell Matthews works for City Bible Forum Sydney and is a film blogger

 

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