Point Break: Forget Everything You Know About The Original
Point Break – A Coastalwatch Film Review by Lewis Gilbert
Forget everything you know about the original.
The year is 1991, a 50-year swell is fast approaching Bells Beach, Gary Busey has just requested two meatball sandwiches and a young federal agent Johnny Utah has just infiltrated a gang of Californian surfers led by a charismatic cosmic lord, named Bodhi.
Flash forward 24 years and we are greeted with a much different scenario in the remake of Point Break. Firstly Utah (Luke Bracey) is now merely a nickname, Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez) is no longer the Californian Lord, the 50-year swell has come and gone, and there’s not a meatball sandwich in sight.
Basically, forget everything you know about the original film. It would be like comparing a caramel milkshake to a can of Monster Energy.
Gone is the lighthearted and at times, silly dialogue that made the original so approachable (and so quotable). In its place is a humorless narrative with a visually thrilling backdrop. But maybe the biggest fault of Point Break 2.0 –is the connection of the central characters, aka the classic bromance of Bodhi and Utah – it just isn’t there. Even the seriously underdeveloped love interest or to put bluntly sex interest of Utah, Samsara (Teresa Palmer) fails to resonate and connect in any way.
Without bagging on the re-boot too much - the film does boast some stunning visuals and amazing location shoots – Teahupo’o, Angel Falls, Venezuela and the Cave of Swallows in Mexico to name a few and, of course, the ridiculous, mind-blowing stunts. To the film's credit, they pulled out all the stops and nailed the stunts looping in some of the best athletes in the world from surfing, snowboarding, motocross and even wingsuit flying – I’m still not sure why Sal Masekela makes an appearance, though.
This is no more evident in Utah’s first encounter with Bodhi and his bearded crew. The team took over Chopes (which for some reason is now in the south of France) for 6 weeks during the biggest swell of 2014 bringing with them mounds of camera gear, helicopters, drones and some of the biggest names in Teahupo’o folklore.
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We spoke to Dylan Longbottom (stunt double for Ramirez) who recalls the scene. “The setup was insane and then we had legendary local, Raimana (Van Bastolaer – Teahupo’o legend) towing me in, Laird (Hamilton – founder of Laird Apparel) towing Bruce (Irons) in, and we thought f*ck is this real”. The result is an incredible cross over double barrel sequence and one of the highlights of the film.
These stunts don’t come without consequence, Laurie Towner (who doubled for Utah) suffered a very publicized wipe out which nearly killed him. He described what unfolded saying “I hit my head on the bottom and must have blacked out because the next thing I can remember is being in the lagoon gasping for air in calm water”. The savvy big-wave surfer ended up with a broken jaw, stitches, whip last and a couple of small scars from the reef, all for a stunt gig in a Hollywood blockbuster.
While Point Break boasts these death-defying action sequences, the film is a crime thriller about relationships and trust. The downfall of the film is that between these sequences the relationships don’t develop and we get little from the new crop of characters to make it a classic and believable story.
Maybe if the powers of Hollywood had chosen a different name for the title and the main characters we wouldn’t be making these pronounced comparisons with the original classic - but in saying that its worth a view on a rainy, onshore summer afternoon for the flawless stunts.
Point Break is in cinemas January 1, 2016!
FOLLOW & LISTEN to the Coastalwatch Point Break Soundtrack
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