It takes a very special director to make scenes of sky-diving, free climbing, big-wave surfing and BASE jumping something to yawn at. Yet Ericson Core must be that kind of miracle worker, because “Point Break,” his update of the 1991 cult classic, is basically a cavalcade of extreme sports, but with less drama than a highlight reel.
Written by Kurt Wimmer, the remake has the same basic architecture of the original. There’s still an FBI agent named Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey, taking over for Keanu Reeves), who goes undercover to investigate a string of crimes. And Johnny still gets starry-eyed after meeting a brawny, mystical anarchist named Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez, standing in for Patrick Swayze).
As in the original, there’s even a scene where Johnny shoots his gun into the air while yelling. Yet this is a completely different movie, because Wimmer and Core seem to believe that what people loved about the first “Point Break” wasn’t the cheesy dialogue or the bromance-induced moral conundrum, but all of the adrenaline.
A rush, it turns out, only goes so far. A little more character development, for example, wouldn’t hurt.
Some of the visuals are truly spectacular, most notably a five-minute sequence in which a group of people wearing wingsuits sail through the air around the Alps after throwing themselves off the Jungfrau. But where the earlier film was punctuated by action, this new, all too self-important version is the opposite. The story is an afterthought.
One chase sequence takes place during a climb up the face of a craggy rock wall beside Angel Falls in Venezuela. Yes, the athleticism is stunning. But climbing is not a fast-paced activity, making the chase look hilariously sluggish. The scene is less reminiscent of “The Fast and the Furious” than a nature documentary about turtles.
That set piece may have seemed like a good idea on paper. On the big screen, as with the rest of the movie, action just isn’t enough.