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The 2015 remake of Point Break is far too dominated by dazzling shots of sea, heights and big land, and the character development is tiny.

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

2 out of 4 stars

Title
Point Break
Written by
Kurt Wimmer
Directed by
Ericson Core
Starring
Edgar Ramirez, Luke Bracey, Teresa Palmer
Genre
Action
Classification
14A
Country
USA/China/Germany
Language
English
Year
2015

"Bodhi," in Sanskrit, is short for "being of wisdom." In Hawaii, "Keanu" means "cool mountain breeze." And, in Hollywood, Point Break means never having to bother with a plausible plot.

The original Point Break, those of a certain age group will know, was a Kathryn Bigelow-directed guilty pleasure from the summer of '91. Flat-speaking Keanu Reeves looked F-I-N-E fine in a wetsuit as Johnny Utah, a former football star who joined the FBI and infiltrated a surf-and-sky-diving gang of bank robbers led by the adrenalized SoCal mystic Bodhi, played by Patrick Swayze. That Bodhi expressed his ethos in saltwater terms, with such irredeemable dialogue as, "[Surfing] is a state of mind. It's when you lose yourself and find yourself."

Those were some gnarly, bruh-saying days of yore, weren't they? But Bodhi told Johnny that he'd see him in the next life, and now Point Break has been remade. Unfortunately, Ericson Core's do-over fails to catch the wave. Big on stunts and 3-D visuals but tiny on character development and good old-fashioned fun, the new Point Break looks great but lacks the cult-hit original's charisma and crescendo. And existentially, it never quite gets lost enough to be found.

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The original and the remake share the same general theme: The spiritual battle involving rescue of one's own soul, with formidable natural elements as a metaphor and cinematic canvas. Take two, written by Kurt Wimmer (The Recruit, Law Abiding Citizen) specifies the mysticism and broadens the action. The gang are ecowarriors and extreme athletes, not only surfing but base-jumping, snowboarding, free-climbing and flying with wingsuits.

The Bodhi here is played by Edgar Ramirez (Carlos, Joy). Brooding and international, he and his crew have a spiritual-physical bucket list of death-defying actions that they check off with Robin Hood's flair and a Greenpeace will, with spectacularly liberated cash and outrageously heisted diamonds from earth-raiding multinationals given back to Mother Nature and the poor of Mexico and Mumbai.

As Johnny Utah we have Luke Bracey, more Heath Ledger than Keanu. His corporately sponsored skill set includes extreme dirt-bike riding, so in the opening scene we have him and his pal motocrossing daringly on the thin ridges at the top of the Arizona desert. They're doing it for YouTube hits: Ding! It's 2015, not 1991, people. The friend misses a jump and dies; the mishap serves as a far-fetched motivation for Utah to become (seven years later) an FBI agent.

Given the globetrotting scope of the film, the FBI involvement here is a bit off. Surely these crimes in India, France and elsewhere are a matter for Interpol? The jurisdiction issue is of small concern, though, compared with other script-related situations. Utah's love interest, for example, is not a love interest at all. The Australian actress-model Teresa Palmer is physically stunning – not the girl-next-door Lori Petty of the original – but her connection with Utah is brief, physical and inconsequential.

Really, all the character connections are just as thin. Ray Winstone in the senior-agent role is mostly used to buzz-kill Utah's case-building. (In the original, Gary Busey was quotable as hell and as hungry for scenery to chew as his character was starved for chili dogs. "Utah! Get me two!")

Early on, Utah's life is saved by Ramirez's Bodhi when the blond-haired protagonist is in way over his head taking on a big wave. Regardless of the bond-forging episode, the pair never quite click bromantically. The final ocean-storm scene between them is all wet – quite the fizzler. The rain must be Swayze weeping in heaven.

But where Utah at least listened to Bodhi, director Core and writer Wimmer don't seem to have bothered. "Nature will find a way of making you seem small," the ominous guru says, and indeed, this film is too far dominated by its dazzling shots of sea, heights and big land.

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As for the wonky plot points, the original Point Break story can not be blamed. As Bodhi says, "Only be responsible for your own path, brother."

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