Breaking bad

So many tattoos, so little point to this remake.

So many tattoos, so little point to this remake.

Rated 1.0

Point Break is (let’s hope) the final entry in the 2015 edition of Remakes Nobody Needed. The original Point Break (1991) starred Keanu Reeves as an FBI agent going undercover to infiltrate a gang of bank-robbing surfers led by a bleach-blonde Patrick Swayze, and it was just as awful as it sounds. It does have its partisans today—it’s sometimes proclaimed a classic by the sort of people who spend their nights in Mom and Dad’s basement posting on IMDb message boards, while others find it a guilty pleasure, convinced that it must really be a straight-faced parody. Giving due credit, director Kathryn Bigelow did presage her Oscar for The Hurt Locker by making the best of a bad situation (i.e., W. Peter Iliff and Rick King’s birdbrained script), and there were some pretty cool surfing and skydiving scenes along the way.

All that can be said about this year’s model is that Kurt Wimmer’s script makes a bad situation worse. And if the new movie’s director, Ericson Core, expects ever to follow Bigelow to the Oscar podium, he’ll need to start making more with what he’s given than he does here.

The Keanu Reeves role is taken by Luke Bracey, last seen as the younger version of James Marsden in the Nicholas Sparks weeper The Best of Me. The character’s name, Johnny Utah, is now a nickname. His real name being Brigham, called “Utah” in reference to where he was born. Utah is an agent-in-training this time, with more tattoos on his body than the rest of the bureau put together (to say nothing of native Utahans named Brigham). He’s come to the FBI after a career in extreme sports, having soured on that line of work when one of his motorcycle stunts caused the death of a friend.

Utah’s past comes in handy when the bureau investigates a gang of thieves committing extreme-sport heists: robbing a diamond depository at the top of a Mumbai skyscraper, then crashing through the glass wall on motorcycles and parachuting to earth strewing the jewels among the beggars below; relieving a C-130 cargo plane of its cargo of U.S. currency, then showering a poor Mexican village with $100 bills as they plunge into the nearby jungle.

Utah is convinced that these daredevil Robin Hoods aren’t in it for the money but are out to complete something called the Ozaki Eight, a series of challenges set up by a legendary extreme athlete in tribute to the forces of nature. (I am not making this up.) He predicts their next move will be to surf some once-in-a-century waves off France, and convinces his FBI Academy boss (Delroy Lindo) to let him investigate.

That’s how Utah falls in with Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez, stepping in for Patrick Swayze). From there, the movie more or less follows the outline of its predecessor, only with more and bigger action scenes.

More and bigger, but not better. CGI has made us all jaded, and it’s significant that in Point Break’s credits, the visual effects crew outnumbers the stunt crew 246 to 37. The surfing and skydiving the first time around may look tame in 2015, but in 1991 at least we knew somebody actually did it. Nowadays, we can’t be so sure.