THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
On the list of movies that really didn't need to be remade, Kathryn Bigalow's Point Break would be high up there. The 1991 Patrick Swayze/Keanu Reeves original is no great shakes and wasn't exactly a box office blockbuster, but it does what it does about as well as any picture could. We live in an age, though, where every semi-popular thing from the past gets redone in an effort to attract that much-desired “built-in audience.” The new Point Break, on DVD and Blu-ray combo pack March 29, doesn't improve on Bigalow's film, although it has an ace in the hole that keeps things at least fairly diverting.
Luke Bracey plays Johnny Utah, a young FBI agent looking to prove his mettle. He gets the chance after coming to believe that the people perpetrating a string of corporate heists are extreme athletes who use their skills to get in and out of difficult places. He knows this because he, too, is such an athlete. Utah infiltrates the group, which is masterminded by the enigmatic Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez). The two men start bonding, despite not fully trusting each other. This leads to some stickiness once Utah figures out all the specifics of the scheme and must abandon the charade in order to take down his new friend.
As a story, Point Break – directed by Ericson Core (Invincible) and written by Kurt Wimmer (the Total Recall remake) – is a mess. The bonding between Utah and Bodie is never fully explored; we're just supposed to accept them as kindred spirits. Even less convincing is Utah's developing romance with Samsara (Teresa Palmer), one of the other members of the group. The whole thing feels perfunctory, as though the movie is simply checking off a box that reads “obligatory love scenes.” It's also a little difficult not to stifle a snicker (or two, or twenty) at the seriousness with which the film takes the silly surfer dude philosophy that underlies both Bodhi's plans and Utah's ambition.
While it flubs on plotting and character development, there's no doubt that Point Break scores on the thing it's really concerned with: extreme sports footage. This is the movie's whole reason for existence. Scenes are designed to show off astonishing feats of surfing, motorcycle riding, skydiving, wingsuit flying, base-jumping, and – in a finale that may leave you clutching the armrests of your couch – rock-climbing without ropes or equipment. Core, who photographed the movie himself, captures some truly breathtaking footage. Extreme sports takes up roughly half of Point Break's running time, with sequences coming along right on schedule every time the dopey story starts to drag.
At the end of the day, Point Break doesn't really coalesce into a quality film; however, as a primer on extreme sports, it holds some appeal. If you like to see people pushing themselves to the physical brink, parts of the movie will absolutely hold your attention. If only the plot was that compelling.
( out of four)
Point Break will be released on 3D Blu-ray, Blu-ray combo pack, and DVD on March 29.
Special features on the Blu-ray are four promotional shorts, each running about two minutes and focusing on the extreme sports-related stunt work in the film. They cover rock climbing, wingsuit flying, snowboarding, and motocross. Next up are eight minutes of deleted scenes, including an extra exchange between Utah and a more experienced agent (played by Ray Winstone), as well as a skateboarding sequence. Finally, there are two theatrical trailers.
The picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are phenomenal. This is a great-looking and great-sounding movie.
Point Break is rated PG-13 for violence, thematic material involving perilous activity, some sexuality, language and drug material. The running time is 1 hour and 54 minutes.
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