The first necessity of this review is to dispel the notion that the original Point Break is some sort of untouchable masterpiece, a beautiful work of art simply masquerading as an action movie.
It’s not. It’s average. Patrick Swayze was charming and Gary Busey was as loose as always, but otherwise it was rather standard fare.
What it did have was an excellent idea at its core: extreme sportsmen playing cops and robbers. In terms of action movie ideas, it’s nothing short of genius.
The new Point Break (in 3D), a remake of the original, latches onto this concept, and, in Point Break fashion, plays it out to the extreme. This time, FBI man Johnny Utah isn’t simply a college football player, but rather a former extreme athlete himself. A simple change in backstory, but it justifies his insight into Bodhi and his gang of thrill seeking criminals.
It’s Utah’s job to shut down Bodhi and co., but as he goes further undercover, he finds himself enthralled by the philosophy and outlook of the would-be culprits. These aren’t just common crims; instead, they’re spiritual journeymen looking to complete the ultimate thrill seeking bucket list, the Ozaki Eight.
At one stage, a character declares that action is the only way forward and this pretty much serves as a mission-statement for the film as a whole. While the original was happy to let the characters sit around a beach fire and talk wise about their beliefs, this update positions the characters on top of mountains.
They may be talking about the same thing, but they act it out in very different ways.
The central thesis of Bodhi’s beliefs is that you are only responsible for your own choices and your own actions. (Of course, you’re also responsible for your own inaction, but in the Point Break world, everyone is a go-getter.) The film then proceeds to explore this, from the initial liberating acceptance of this notion, to the shallowness of it, to the denial of it by Utah.
For a film many will dismiss as a dumb action movie, Point Break is surprisingly profound at times.
But, yes, there are big action scenes; not dumb perhaps, but certainly loud. From the prologue dirt bikes flying through air, to the eighty-foot waves, to the gang’s criminal antics, the action is fast and furious, and surprisingly suitable to the 3D format.
Yes, this Point Break doesn’t have as richly painted characters as the original, but they’re… ‘acceptable.’ They’re no less than we’ve come to expect from modern action films, and are actually quite a bit more.
Plus, to complain an action movie looses some character depth in search of better action is a bit of a redundant argument.
Point Break takes the original ideas and shoots them full of adrenaline, with the same good characters and equally good actors (except Ray Winstone; no one is better than Busey), it’s a thrill ride with substance, a rarity in the modern market.