Friday, January 1, 2016

Point Break [2015]

MPAA (PG-13)  CNS/USCCB (A-III)  ChicagoTribune (1 Star) (1 1/2 Stars)  AVClub (D+)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (K. Jenson) review
ChiTrib / WashPost  (S. Merry) review (P. Sobczynski) review
AVClub (I. Vishnevetsky) review  

Point Break [2015] (directed by Ericson Core, screenplay by Kurt Wimmer, story by Rick King, W. Peter Iliff and Kurt Wimmer) is INSPIRED BY / A REMAKE OF of the CULT (SURFER) CLASSIC Point Break [1991] (directed by Kathryn Bigelow, screenplay by Peter Iliff, story by Rick King and W. Peter Iliff) only EXPANDED to take into account developments (an arguably AN EXPLOSION OF DEVELOPMENTS) in the realm of EXTREME SPORTS since the making of the original.

AND it is ALSO IMPORTANT / IMPERATIVE TO NOTE that Ericson Core the director of the current film was DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY for the first Fast and Furious [2001] movie.  Otherwise, one simply won't understand the nature / purpose of the current film.

AS IN THE 1991-ORIGINAL, THE PLOT _QUITE NOMINALLY_ FOLLOWS Johnny Utah (played in the original by Keanu Reeves, and in the current film by Luke Bracey) a (former "star college football athlete" in the original, and a former "extreme athlete" in the current film) who's since joined the FBI. He's tasked with infiltrating a group of ["surfers" in the original film, and "extreme athletes" in the current one] whose enjoyment of Nature (or of the "Rush" that comes from participating in Extreme Sports) _may have_ turned them into a particularly dangerous / nihilistic Band of Criminals -- living for the thrill, they appear utterly unafraid of death, hence the (folks at the Bureau) fear that they could become capable of anything...

... 'Cept it's more complicated than that.  The Band of Extreme Surfers (1991) / Extreme Athletes (2015) led by Bodhi (played in the original by Patrick Swayze and in the current film by Édgar Ramírez) are motivated _at least partly_ by an Eastern tinged / radical environmentalist ideology.  Hence they don't really commit random crimes.  Instead, they appear to commit "actions" (remaining at least partly _crimes_ ...) aimed, at least in part, to "restore balance to Nature" / "the Earth" / even "Society."   Hence, they rob Banks (in the first movie), Diamond Dealers, Gold Miners, etc (in the current one) and "restore" the ill-gotten goods of (evil) Corporate Interests "to the Earth" (or "to the Poor") "to whom they belong."

In both films, the young Johnny Utah, who is at least in part seduced by Bodhi's Eastern / "Zen" tinged radical environmentalist idealism, is partnered with an older, no nonsense, curmudgeon of an FBI agent named Pappas (played in the original by Gary Busey and in the current film by Ray Winstone) who finds the aspirational ideology supposedly behind Bodhi's band of criminals' crimes a bunch of nonsense -- "They (criminals) always have an explanation / an excuse for what they are doing" he tells the partly/largely "starry eyed" entranced Utah at one point in the current story.

And so much ensues ... Is Bodhi and his group just a bunch of adrenaline crazed nihilistic criminals?  Or are they actually on a (perhaps quite crazy / stupidly dangerous) path to Nirvana / Enlightenment?   Where will Johnny Utah's (and even the film-makers') loyalties finally go?

BUT HONESTLY FOLKS, ALL OF THIS IS REALLY BESIDE THE POINT.  The story, in as much as it exists, does so to allow the film-makers to offer Viewers of the film one truly spectacular sequence after another of death defying "extreme sports" stunts that could honestly serve as a "Stress Test" for us "mere mortals."  AND IT IS EXHILIRATING ;-).

MY CONCERN -- as a Catholic Priest -- is that it ALL becomes, at times, truly Nihilistic:

EARLY / UNNECESSARILY STUPID Death is shrugged off by Bodhi's band of extreme athletes as perhaps an inevitable passage to "Enlightenment."  Each time one of the group's members die, the others salute him with the phrase: "See you soon..."

I do think I understand "the thrill" of doing something that NO ONE (or VERY FEW) have done -- like SNOWBOARDING down a random rock-strewn cliff-face somewhere in the Alps (after being dropped off there by a helicopter), or WING-SUIT FLYING through a winding, narrow / deep canyon at speeds aproaching 160 mpg, or SURFING insanely high 100 foot waves that appear from time to time in random parts of the globe, or ROCK-CLIMBING (with no rope or gear) 3200 feet up the shear face of a cliff _beside a spectacular waterfall_, that also _randomly spews mist about_ (dampening everything around...).

It's all spectacular.  But then, if someone dies as a result, it just seems so hollow to respond by essentially saying: "Oops..." 

We're more than "Oops."  Our lives are more than "Oops." 

Something to remember.

Still, the film _is_ ONE HECK OF A RIDE ... ;-) ... and definitely worthy of lively discussion afterwards.


A good part of the current film has the extreme athletes seeking to complete a list of challenges called "The Ozaki 8" after a supposed extreme athlete / Zen-ish mystic from Japan named, well..., Ozaki ;-).  The eight challenges were all in some way supposed to highlight one-or-another of the "forces of nature."  In the film, after completing each of these challenges, Bodhi's gang committed one or another of their "actions" (arguably crimes) to "give back to nature" something of what they / humanity was taking from it.

It turns out that there was no renowned extreme athlete named Ozaki, nor (then) his eight challenges until the making of this film (article by Michael R. Powell on the matter).  However, one gets a sense that the Eight Challenges (hopefully minus the crimes ...) will be with us from now on. 

What are The Ozaki Eight Challenges?  Well their names are:

1.Emerging Force
2.Birth of Sky
3.Awakening Earth
4.Life of Water
5.Life of Wind
6.Life of Ice
7.Master of Six Lives
8.Act of Ultimate Trust.

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