Blu-ray Review: Point Break (2015)

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Credit the producers of the new Point Break with trying very hard to distinguish their film from the 1991 original. That earlier film, directed by Academy Award winner Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), has emerged as something of a classic. Not only is it an exciting, suspenseful action film, it boasts great star turns by two cinematic icons—Keanu Reeves as rookie G-man Johnny Utah and the late Patrick Swayze as Bodhi, the surfing bank robber and focus of Utah's investigation. The most immediately apparent point of departure in the 2015 Point Break is the casting of two relative unknowns in those roles. That would be fine if either Luke Bracey (as Utah) or Édgar Ramírez (as Bodhi) exhibited the charisma and conviction necessary to sell their characters. But they don't, which hampers director Ericson Core right out of the gate.

Point Break is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital HD via Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. 

Point Break 2 (380x214).jpg A decade ago Core directed the football film Invincible, a rousing, well-received biopic of Philadelphia Eagle Vince Papale. To be fair, the action sequences in his Point Break are often stunning. Bodhi and his team of robbers are extreme sport enthusiasts. They're attempting to tick off every death-defying stunt on the fabled "Ozaki 8," a program of extreme sports-oriented feats created by Bodhi's late mentor, Ono Ozaki. Each feat is intended to honor a specific element of nature. We're treated to some absolutely breathtaking sequences, including snowboarding in the Alps, paragliding through mountains and valleys, skydiving into deep caves, and treacherous mega-wave surfing. Bodhi and his team fund their lifestyle via heists, but also perform Robin Hood-like acts such as unleashing a torrential downpour of currency during a mid-air plane robbery over Mexico.

Another action highlight involves Utah's back story and opens the film. A young and reckless Johnny Utah participates in an extreme motocross race with friend Jeff (Max Thieriot). Utah clearly lives for this kind of adrenaline rush, but his life immediately flips upside down with the bike ride (on a perilously thin path high atop mountain ridges) results in Jeff's accidental death. Attempting to add meaning to his life, Utah enrolls for FBI training. His boss (Delroy Lindo) is skeptical of his prospects, given Utah's well-known irresponsible past. But Utah gets his big chance to prove himself after piecing together multiple seemingly-unrelated cases, pinning them on a group of thrill-seekers attempting the "Ozaki 8." Soon after infiltrating Bodhi's clan undercover, Utah finds himself drawn back into the addictive lifestyle of adrenaline junkies. 

Point Break 3 (380x214).jpg From a purely visual standpoint, Point Break offers plenty to appreciate. Every dollar of the $100 million-plus budget is up there on screen. A quick perusal of the shooting locations (as listed on IMDb) helps explain why the film cost so much—and why it looks so good. Venezuela, Austria, Switzerland, Hawaii, Tahiti, just to name a few. It's a shame the film is so portentous and humorless though. And as Utah and Bodhi, Bracey and Ramírez just aren't cutting it. That's not because they aren't Reeves and Swayze. It's because they never carve out characters that stick in the memory long enough to care. 
point break BD (301x380).jpg Warner's Blu-ray is a marvel, with a sumptuous transfer of director Ericson Core's own digital cinematography. Core's credits as a cinematographer are far more extensive than his directorial filmography. He clearly knows how to capture truly impressive footage and Point Break is packed to the gills with memorable visuals. The audio is presented as a muscular, lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 surround mix.

Special features: there are four two-minute featurettes, each focuses on one of the stunt sequences. Five deleted scenes add up to about eight minutes of extra footage. Aside from a couple trailers, that's all she wrote.

The 2015 Point Break doesn't provide the action rush that the 1991 original did. The storytelling is too sedate. And the cast can't seem to bring any fire to their roles. It does, however, boast several visually beautiful sequences that are strong enough to make the film mildly recommendable.

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Chaz Lipp writes for The Morton Report.

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