Somewhere between timeless classics and forgettable throwaways, there exists a wide catalogue of movies that could benefit from a modern day reboot but would likely fall under the radar if not executed perfectly. Point Break is one such movie. While the original Point Break (1991) is by no means a masterpiece, it’s still a decent action caper featuring some delightfully cheesy performances by Patrick Swayze (Roadhouse) and Keanu Reeves (John Wick). A reckless cop enlists with a group of surfers who turn out to be bank robbers, and his close connection with them clouds his judgment. It’s pretty standard fare by now, informing future action movies such as Fast and the Furious. Point Break (2015) takes the loose threads of the original and repackages them in the world of extreme sports. Our hero is still a reckless novice named Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) and opposite him is a fearsome, death-defying thrill chaser named Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez from Deliver Us From Evil). But somewhere in between conception and execution, Point Break either lost focus or started coming apart at the seams, and the end result feels like a movie cobbled together by one poorly conceived plot point after the next.
Point Break may be considered one of the worst movies released in 2015. It is a mishmash of protracted extreme sports sequences–like surfing massive waves or using wingsuits through a giant mountain range–with story beats that are motivated not by character development or a compulsive plot but a necessity to reach a conclusion that closely matches the original. For all intents and purposes, this is an extreme sports documentary masquerading as an action movie, but the actual narrative elements are so thin it’s hard to care. And without any connection to the characters or interest in the plot, the drawn out action sequences feel even more disjointed. The film wastes so much time basking in the admittedly impressive settings of its major set pieces and the execution of its practical stunts that it becomes clear everything else is an afterthought. So why make a dramatic film in the first place? Why not simply make a documentary about thrill chasers?
At any rate, what is on film is only compelling because the sequences are well shot and clearly created with minimal CGI interference. Watching small, insignificant humans become dwarfed by the massive landscapes around them gives a true sense of scale to a few of the sequences, even if they serve little purpose in the grand scheme of things. That’s by no means an endorsement of the film, just an acknowledgment of the stunt team, who, through no fault of their own, created thrilling stunts for a generic movie.
You’ll notice that not much has been said about how Point Break compares to the original, and that’s for good reason. The adaptation work here is so loose that it’s hard to even call this film a Point Break remake, even if the characters actually say the phrase “point break” during the movie. This is a case where a group of writers — there were several rewrites during pre-production — tried to put their own twist on the basic story, but in the process forget what made the original worth adapting in the first place. Then, in order to save face, the production spends so much time touting its stunt work on-screen that it’s hard to even find convincing narrative threads or intriguing characters. It truly is a mess.
If it wasn’t evident already, Point Break should be avoided at all costs this holiday season. You might say that the film has some effective stunt work, but the extended action sequences neither build character nor propel the plot forward. They are masturbatory in the worst way. And by the time the movie does get around to continuing its story no one will care about the conflict between Johnny Utah and Bodhi. They actually won’t even know them as characters. Point Break is a feeble attempt at surfing with the big boys that is wiped out by its own, massive flaws.