Point Break

Director: Ericson Core (2016)

This shallow remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 surfing cop classic arrives dead in the water, lacking any sense of danger or fun. Or any sense at all.

The wild thrill ride of Bigelow’s action movie has been refashioned as a stumblingly  hyperactive extreme sports eco thriller.

Luke Bracey’s dons Keanu Reeves’ old wetsuit as an extreme sports ‘poly-athlete’ turned trainee FBI agent Johnny Utah. But he lacks the charm, looks and talent of his predecessor.

Edgar Ramírez replaces Patrick Swayze as the enigmatic Bodhi, the nirvana chasing leader of the criminal gang Utah has to bring to justice.

Following the plot of the superior first film, Utah goes undercover to infiltrate Bodhi’s crew of bank robbing, wealth distributing whale huggers.

Showcasing their tatts and abs at every opportunity, they surf, climb and batglide their way around the globe.

It’s as if they haven’t considered a consequence of dropping bundles of banknotes in impoverished rural areas will cause localised hyperinflation and make the residents poorer.

Or put another way, I was so uninvolved with the story I found myself applying economic theory to their actions, rather than cheering an act of audaciously performed philanthropy.

Utah’s backstory relies on a stunt borrowed from Taxi (1998), the not much remembered, Luc Bresson produced, action comedy. One fears this does not bode well for what’s to follow, but sadly said boding is far from adequate.

Director Ericson Core began his career as a cinematographer and it shows. Wearing both hats here he conjures some wonderful images, especially down in the fresh surf and up on the snow.

But as a storyteller he’s woeful, offering ciphers instead of characters who spout appalling dialogue.

The aesthetic is teenage cool, lots of posing in front of burning cars and graffiti’d underground gang hangouts.

Utah carries a Zippo because it’s a cool thing to do. He doesn’t go so far as to carry any cigarettes. Because smoking isn’t cool. Unless you’re offered a toke on a joint, which is edgy and therefore cool and allows for a cool pose.

Ray Winstone growls and tries to make himself useful as overseas FBI agent Angelo Pappas, but he has nothing to contribute to the plot.

Teresa Palmer’s position as bikini clad babe Samsara Dietz is to be leered over by the camera and prove Utah’s heterosexuality. And cook dinner for the chaps.

As a replacement for Lori Petty’s fierce and sculptured surfer from the original, Palmer is hopelessly out of her depth.

Delroy Lindo is Utah’s FBI controller who’s passion is for extreme exposition.

Employing three different editors suggests a reason why the movie feels so piecemeal, it’s a collection of set pieces strung together not a coherent story.

Plus edited in the irritated manner of a music video sells the stunts short. Much longer edits would sell us a frisson of much needed veracity, creating a threat the guys may at some point be hurt.

But as the stunts become bigger and higher, the stakes become lower. We’re not invested in the story and the physics defying leaps possess the dramatic depth of a video game.

There’s an absence of humour and no sense of the film is aware of it’s own preposterous nature.

Flagged up twice is the film’s one interesting idea, that the FBI are acting as the security wing of multinational corporations, inverting the good guy/bad guy dynamic and making Utah the villain.

But it’s not explored in any way and brushed aside in favour of yet more lightweight action.

The stunt team and camera operators deserve plaudits but for everyone else it’s a wipeout.

The Gunman

Director: Pierre Morel (2015)

Sean Penn is a brain-damaged assassin on the run in this dull and brutal action thriller.

It has a preposterous plot, makes heavy-handed political statements and has no sympathetic characters.

The frequent action sequences are powered by a fistful of heavyweight actors (Sean PennJavier BardemIdris ElbaRay Winstone and Mark Rylance). But they can’t distract you from how staggeringly implausible it all is.

Eight years ago, private security operative and part-time assassin Jim Terrier (Penn) abandoned his lovely girlfriend Annie (Jasmine Trinca) in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He had to leave quickly after being the principal gunman responsible for the murder of the Minister of Mining, which threw the troubled country into renewed chaos.

Now Terrier has returned and is now working peacefully for an NGO but Annie is long gone. This gives Terrier plenty of time to go surfing and show off his impressive physique.

Penn’s body is by Charles Atlas, hair colour by Paul McCartney and skin tone by David Dickinson.

One day he’s attacked by shotgun and machete wielding thugs. After manfully protecting himself with a shovel, he’s jetting off to London to talk to former colleagues to discover why he’s been targeted.

In a swanky office overlooking St Paul’s Cathedral he meets Cox (Rylance). He now heads a multinational security firm and explains the other members of Terrier’s former hit-squad are dead.

So Terrier meets his friend and former SAS soldier Stanley (Winstone) in the pub. After winning a fight with a footie fan, Terrier is diagnosed with a brain condition which causes amnesia, nausea, headaches, dizziness and blurred vision.

It’s incurable but the doctor does provide headache pills and a sweet smile.

Terrier’s amnesia is so bad he forgets to suffer symptoms. Especially after being involved in explosive gunfights of the sort he’s specifically told to avoid, for fear of aggravating his condition.

London is grey so they fly to sunny Barca sunny which is full of bull-fighting. They contact a civilian who ran the Congo assassination, the drunkard Felix (Bardem).

He’s now married to Terrier’s former love Annie and lives in a palatial villa – but keeps his flash car in a nearby farmer’s barn.

Afters some handbags in a restaurant Annie finds Terrier at his secret Spanish Legion hideout. They’re soon making up for lost time before being separated – again.

Cinematographer Flavio Martinez Labiano aims for epic sweep with helicopter shots and tries to heighten our tension by closing the frame with lots of shallow focus.

The brutal violence but conspicuous lack of nudity and bloodshed suggests a more graphic product was imagined in the filming but the four – count them – four producers compromised the editing of Frédéric Thoraval to chase a lower certificate and a wider market.

The plot ricochets around with betrayals, explosions and a brief appearance by Idris Elba. There’s neck-snapping fist-fights, lots of gun play, more explosions and an angry bull.

There’s lots of bull here and if that weakly constructed metaphor is good enough to be used in the film – then it’s good enough for this review.