Point Break

POINT BREAK. US, 2015. Starring Edgar Ramirez, Luke Bracey, Ray Winstone, Teresa Palmer, Matias Varela, Clemens Schick, Tobias Santelmamm, Max Thieriot, Delroy Lindo. Directed by Ericson Core. 114 minutes.  Rated M (Mature themes, violence and coarse language).

A quarter of a century ago there was an action film, surfing, robberies, FBI investigation, that made its mark as a cult classic, Point Break, with Patrick Swayze as the surfer leader of the robbers and Keanu Reeves as the infiltrator. In retrospect it is interesting to note that the film was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture in 2009 for The Hurt Locker.

As with all sequels or remakes, many ask whether it is worthwhile – and what is the point! In this case it is to retain the basic plot and central characters but to extend the sports world of surfing to extreme sports, including surfing, skydiving, cliff climbing, trail bike achievement…

Of course, this is one of those adrenaline-pumping films (and, at some times, this is a bit of an understatement). As we sit in our seats, watching all these exploits, extremes that sometimes go beyond imagination, we cannot help but be excited. This is what is called vicarious excitement and entertainment. There may be some in the audience who would actually try to emulate these feats (though not exactly recommended) but most of us sit there identifying, comfortably and often uncomfortably, with the characters and all that tough and demanding action.

And the locations go international. Looking at the credits, one sees that there were shooting units not only in the United States, in Arizona, but also in Mexico, Venezuela, India, France, Austria and Italy. The film is quite spectacular to look at, quite extraordinary landscapes, especially for the trail bike opening ride and the trail called The Spine. The cliff-climbing in Venezuela, the double fall into the rapids, going over a vast waterfall, the extraordinary waves in the mid-Atlantic, the goldmine in Venezuela and the vast avalanche of rocks down the mountain side, skydiving and setting bales of cash free in midair, aiming for specific holes in the ground to dive into – and so on.

Australian Luke Bracey takes the role of Johnny Utah, made so popular by Keanu Reeves. International star, Venezuelan, Edgar Ramirez, is a strong presence and persuasive as the leader, Bodhi. While in the original, the robbers were daring and had a philosophy of edge and over the edge experience, this time the motivation is far more “mystical”, allegedly based on Ogaki, a Japanese adventurer, who made a list of eight daring feats, progressing around the world, defying all kinds of physical challenges. Bodhi’s aim is to achieve all of these. He has an international group with him, including Samsara, Australia’s Teresa Palmer.

There is an altruistic ideology about their exploits, stating that people have taken from the earth and, therefore, they have permission to return something of what was taken to oppressed people – diamonds falling from the air in India, cash in Mexico.

Johnny Utah is earnest as an FBI trainee with Delroy Lindo as his sceptical supervisor, persuaded about Johnny’s theories about where the group will strike next and allowing him to infiltrate, though not without many reprimands after Johnny is absent for 12 days, busy infiltrating the group and with Samsara, who shares the ideals. Ray Winstone is the British agent supervising him locally.

Eventually, there has to be a confrontation, a rivalry between the two men, with Bodhi relentless in his sense of mission and Johnny Utah having to come to terms with extreme sports achievements and the reality of crime, and its consequences, especially killings.

The director is Ericson Core who also acted as cinematographer – no mean feat with such different locations and such hyper-action sequences (actual or expertly using the green screen).

Roadshow   Released 1st January

Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

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