My Rating: 7.5 out of 10
The remake of the 1991 action-thriller Point Break had just all the right ingredients to make an incredible movie: compelling characters, an exciting plot packed with some big themes, a bit of mystery, a bit of romance, and (of course) epic extreme sports sequences filmed in a way that could only have been executed in 2015.
Point Break follows the story of Johnny Utah (played by Luke Bracey), an extreme sports athlete who retired after experiencing a tragedy, who is training to be an FBI agent and believes he has figured out a connection between a string of recent robberies, in which extreme sports athletes rob various government affiliated companies and agencies in order to give back to nature. Johnny believes that the crimes are being committed by individuals attempting to complete a series of physical challenges known as the Ozaki Eight, which are designed to honor nature. While going under cover, Johnny manages to infiltrate the group of outlaws, but quickly realizes that their way of thinking may be more appealing than he had anticipated.
Having not seen the original Point Break, I can definitely say that I was surprised by the many twists and turns that happened throughout this film. Especially when it came to the ending, which was far different and much more ballsy than I had anticipated. I loved the idea of the Ozaki Eight as it gave the “villains” of the story something to fight for in opposition to the protagonist while creating this really cool reason for the characters to engage in various extreme sports. The cinematography, especially during the stunts, was absolutely phenomenal and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout every sequence. It was easy to forget I was watching a movie and not the live coverage of some epic sporting event. The use of GoPros and other modern wearable cameras really heightened the feeling that I was right there with the actors.
On top of the use of modern cameras, the intensity and beauty of the landscapes made the stunt scenes way more riveting. You can feel the risk that the characters are taking with each of the Ozaki Eight challenges, which makes it all the more thrilling when they safely complete one. The scenery really accentuated the idea that nature is bigger than any of us, which fit nicely with the theme of the movie. The characters were all very interesting as they didn’t fit into the cliched roles of hero and villain. Johnny Utah is a broken man trying to redeem himself, who is also empathetic to the cause of this criminal group that he is trying to both stop and understand. The antagonists are not really bad people, but don’t shy away from doing questionable and immoral things to complete their goals. They are principled, even if their principles can be a bit skewed.
I loved that Johnny and Bodhi (the leader of the extreme athlete crime group played by Edgar Ramirez) understand each other on such a deep level. You question throughout the entire film whether or not the two of them will join forces for real or continue to be separated by a slight difference in morality. The acting should also be applauded as everyone did a great job of bringing their characters to life, especially since the cast had a lot of relatively new faces (such as Luke Bracey himself).
My only real issue with Point Break stems from a habit that the filmmakers had of glossing over certain aspects of the plot in order to get to the action. In most cases this didn’t do too much to spoil the fun of the film, but it certainly did make me wish their was a bit more. For example, it is never explained why Bodhi and his allies committed crimes after some of the Ozaki Eight challenges, but not after all of them, which is clearly an aspect of the ordeal. Also, Samsara was a very interesting character and I liked her relationship with Johnny, but I felt that the way in which things ended between the two characters was fully earned as they hadn’t spent quite enough time together on screen. In terms of the overall story, it all made sense (minus one scene at Victoria Falls in which the laws of physics seemed not to apply for an instant), but there were critical plot points that took place off screen and I feel as though it would have helped the film if the filmmakers had opted to show them.
All in all, a superb and exciting action-thriller that is great for almost anyone. During a time when many action movies can be devoid of substance or character depth, Point Break really delivers on all fronts and is a must-see for 2015.