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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Dec 29, 2015

Point Break Review: Great Action Scenes But Bland Lead Actors

‘POINT BREAK’ opened in the U.S. only on Christmas Day but it was released here 3 weeks ago and it was hardly noticed by local moviegoers as it was not at all promoted. Too bad because it turned out to be very entertaining and it could have been as big a hit as the similarly themed “Fast and Furious” series. It’s actually a remake of a 1991 movie with a cult following starring Keanu Reeves and the late Patrick Swayze, directed by a female director, Kathryn Bigelow, who’d later win the Oscar for “The Hurt Locker”.

The new version is directed by Ericson Core and it’s another tribute to machismo loaded with awesome spectacular action sequences. The original movie was set only on Los Angeles but the new one is a globe-trotting piece of cinema showing its main characters doing daredevil, death-defying stunts in various exotic locations.

The story is basically the same. Johnny Utah (then Keanu, now Luke Bracey), an extreme athlete, joins the FBI after his best friend died in an accident. He is made to infiltrate the gang of Bodhi (Swayze then, Edgar Ramirez now) who seems to be doing a series of high risk challenges known as the Ozaki Eight that aim to honor the forces of Nature. Their aim in doing various heists is not for their own material enrichment (they give the loot to the poor in Mumbai and Mexico) but for spiritual enlightenment.

Fans of extreme sports will no doubt love the movie, with all the dangerous scenes involving big-wave surfing, skydiving, snowboarding, motorbiking and rock climbing all executed convincingly with utmost precision. Real extreme athletes are featured here, like Bob Burnquist, Laird Hamilton, Ian Walsh, etc. They perform death-defying stunts that are shot in such breathtaking locations like the Cave of Swallows in Mexico, the coast of Biarritz in France and the beautiful Angel Falls in Venezuela. These scenes alone are already worth the price of admission.

But the remake’s biggest problem is they got lackluster actors who simply do not have the dynamism of Keanu and Swayze, whose characters’ seeming bromance made the original more intriguing. Aussie actor Luke Bracey was introduced as the young James Marsden in Nicholas Spark’s “The Best of Me”. He looks too old for that role and he also looks too old (and bland) as Johnny Utah here.

Edgar Ramirez is also wanting as Bodhi. Both of them are heavily tattooed, but you won’t believe that Utah will have any respect for him and he’s not at all believable as someone who’s on a quest for spiritual enlightenment. Simply put, both Bracey and Ramirez just lack the strong charisma and magnetic screen presence of Keanu and Swayze who were also more successful in making their movie work.

Bracey is given a love interest (Teresa Palmer) and there’s a twist that happens to her later. It’s meant to shock viewers but the problem is they failed to make us invest in their flimsy romantic relationship. But still, the adrenalin-charged action scenes ala-ESPN are enough reasons for thrill-seeking audiences to watch it.