On a day off from my temp stint at Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, NY, I drove 45 minutes to Ithaca to take in a movie, Star Wars, then grab a sandwich at Gorgers Subs (best subs, ever). At least two of my nephews have raved about the new episode and it’s received some pretty darn good reviews. Pulling into the jammed up mall parking lot I had a sinking feeling. And sure enough, the 2:00 showing was sold out. I can’t remember the last time I went to a movie with more than a couple dozen people in the theater. I needed a plan B.
I wasn’t yet ready for the sandwich and I’m not keen on last-second plan changes. So I bought a ticket for the only other film being shown at 2:00—the remake of Point Break (1991). The original was pretty cool, at least in my memory it is. A young Keanu Reeves plays an undercover FBI agent (Johnny Utah) who tries to infiltrate the surfer-dude-bank-robber crew led by a hunky Patrick Swayze (Bodhi) complete with a bronze tan and long golden locks. The twist comes when Johnny Utah’s relationship with Bodhi grows brotherly, and Utah finds himself absorbed by the adrenaline-pumped ifestyle. Will he keep his cover and make a bust, or will he toss the badge forever? Such nineties drama, I’m telling you.
The final scene of the original is the most memorable. Bodhi had long escaped the FBI’s pursuit, yet with a “100-year storm” brewing somewhere in the Pacific, Utah knows just where to find him. On the beach, Bodhi convinces Utah to let him get in one last wave. Now or never. As the camera follows Bodhi’s approach, the wave grows taller and taller. A monster. It eventually propels Bodhi down a sheer cliff of water. Whether it was fifty feet tall or twice that, the surfer of this wave is real, not some computer-generated one. In fact, it’s none other than the legendary big wave surfer and husband of volleyball star Gabrielle Reese, Mr. Laird Hamilton. He slices a perfect straight line from the wave’s crest through the mountainous belly, only to wipe out and be swallowed into the mouth of the sea. We’re to believe that Bodhi didn’t survive the wipeout. A storybook finish to Utah’s plight that leaves the viewer wondering what he’ll do next.
The 2015 remake is nothing like this. Nothing at all. In fact, it’s a completely different story. In the 2015 version, the surfers are not surfers at all, but extreme athletes. And rather than rob banks with awesome Nixon and Reagan masks, they do shit like highjack airplanes carrying pallets of American currency, then drop the money onto South American villages. But that’s not all. They also skydive full-speed into caves, fly through the Alps wearing wing suits, and party in the least likely locations thanks to a French benefactor who hires DJs, hookers, and bartenders to serve cold Heinekens to our so-called heroes. There’s even a Fight Club-esque scene where Bodhi initiates Utah with his bare knuckles. Total rip off.
Johnny Utah in this iteration, is an ex-motorcross stud trying to redeem himself for leading a cycle comrade to his death. Utah often sits alone and mopes, beating himself up and rehashing his past, no doubt. Even Bodhi gives him hell for it. Tells him, “forget it, man…as soon as he followed you on that path it became his own…it’s not your fault, bro.” I just puked.
Every character in the redo is covered in tribal tattoos, which of course makes them totally badass. The one woman we get to know is straight out of a Prana catalog and has giant breasts. She rubs them on Utah within minutes of meeting him for the first time. Her backstory? She was raised by a mystic (and now dead) Japanese man who cryptically described an 8-step path to enlightenment. She’s on this path with Bodhi and the crew, but all she seems to do is chill at camp and make sure the fire is hot when they return from their adventures. As if she’s saying, “Oh great, they successfully free-climbed a Venezuelan waterfall the height of El Capitán! Come get warm, boys!” Of course she gets killed before the movie’s over. And who’s her killer? Why, Utah of course. Puts a bullet in her, thinking she’s Bodhi. Woah, we didn’t see that coming. And poor Johnny! His luck simply couldn’t get any worse.
In one scene they backpacked for like 12 hours with full packs, only to make a fire caveman-style without matches. You know, the wood-friction-and-dry-moss sort of undertaking. The scene lasted a good two minutes. What, was a lighter too heavy for someone’s side pocket? Jesus H, are you kidding me?
The acting in the remake is worse than terrible, it’s embarrassing. The storyline is a sham, and Ericson Core‘s (the director’s) opportunity to shed light on a freakish “sport” is missed. The movie succeeds in depicting extreme enthusiasts as white, privileged, male, misogynistic assholes who expect the world to be handed to them, all in the name of doing the right thing. There’s nothing noble in their efforts, even if they do have the Earth’s well-being in mind. Plus, they are all unlikable douche bags.
Best part of the movie, Laird Hamilton’s return cameo. He’s driving the skidoo that pulls Utah into a giant wave. Laird had maybe two lines and it was the best acting in the film, hands down.
I officially mark this movie as the worst one I ever sat through. Yes, the absolute worst. Why did I stay? Well for one, I wasn’t hungry yet. And second, I thought it might get better. And go figure, by the time I left the theater and called my girlfriend to tell her about the shit show I had just endured, Gorgers Subs on West State Street had already closed. Man, what a fucked up day.