‘Point Break’ remake sends extreme sports to the world of eco-terrorism

The Big One. What is the symbolic “big one” in a film that features motocross, rock climbing, base jumping, wing suiting, boating, skydiving, snowboarding, skateboarding, remote hiking and, of course, surfing as the medium for an illegal geo-political agenda?

In the original 1991 Kathryn Bigelow-directed “Point Break” – starring Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah and Patrick Swayze as Bodhi – chaos is what financed the athletic pursuits of Bodhi and his gang, that lurking nihilistic thrill of hunting for The Big One whilst jumping from planes and paddling toward 20- and 30-foot waves.

This Christmas, for the new “re-imagining” of “Point Break,” practicing extreme sports in rare, beautiful Earthly destinations are allegorical acts of natural one-ness to a cell of eco-terrorists who devise high-end corporate heists. There”s a Bodhi – played by Edgar Ramirez – who is Zen Master to this band, to what was repeatedly referred to as his “wolf pack.” On a visit to the set of this remake, the actors and crew kept making reference to “spiritual” “quests,” “monk-like” “theology” and “forces” based upon instinct and “natural” “will.” The point break, rather, is less about the thrill, and more about what separates man from nature, and an ecological activist from a human terrorist.

In 1991″s “Point Break,” The Big One was the carrot. For 2015's, maybe Becoming One with nature is.

“I think the reason why that movie struck a chord in 1991 was because we were coming off of 12 years of Republican administrations and Ronald Reagan and Wall Street Go-Go “80s, and so forth. It represented a sort of counter-culture or statement against the man or government of whatever that was very relevant to those times,” producer Andrew Kosove told HitFix from a set in the recesses of Austria. “Twenty-five years later, we”ve experienced a level of wealth consolidation, and globalization, and corporate power across lines and countries that were inconceivable in 1991. So I think thematically that idea of ‘We”re going to be off the grid and live our own way” is even more resonant now than it was 25 years ago.”

The first “Point Break” also had its notion of tribes, based on counter-culture and the then-lesser-explored surfer subculture. Today, that extreme sports realm is pretty firmly established in the mainstream: There is no subversion when everybody”s doing it. We have X-Games and all manner of ESPN, leagues and trophies for every sport; there are leagues and fantasy leagues and farm leagues not only devised for athleticism but for commercial industry, and a visual cue by which corporations can sell and/or adhere their logos of low-calorie beer, electronic tablets and sport utility vehicles. 

This “Point Break” features its band of bad guys taking financing from a Big Corporate Money Pile as a stunt unto itself. And, that aside, the filmmakers promise it to look cool as hell: director/cinematographer Ericson Core took this shoot on the road to nearly a dozen countries and over four sub-continents. There was snowboarding in the Italian Alps, wing-suiting in Switzerland, and a character flies of the edge of Angel Falls, Venezuela. Some of the finest extreme athletes – Bob Burnquist, Eric Coston – stop in, and some even perform the stunts. Cameras were mounted on remote control helicopters and fixed on shoulders in free fall. Green screen was shunted in deference to practical footage. Ramirez almost broke his ankle in a scene with Luke Bracey (the new Johnny Utah, described repeatedly as a “wounded bird”), as the two performed for a fight club scene in France.

“We caught the largest wave break of the decade and we got the most extraordinary second unit footage of the best big wave surfers in the world,” Kosove boasted.

“What is really amazing is that when someone watches the movie and says ‘Oh no, that”s impossible, nobody did that,” the reality is that yes, somebody did it. Because the stunts are incredible,” Ramirez said.

Then, what we were doing in vast private home outside of Villach, Austria in the middle of the night? Forget the treelines, we were there for a party. As previously reported, Steve Aoki is on the ones and twos (pictured below in a photo Ramirez tweeted), and its wall-to-wall of attractive 20-somethings in ski chateau finery, some stars from the slopes can be found in the crowd. Forget the clicky heels and tube dresses, but rather imagine neutral stylish woolens and darling toboggan hats. The colors are thick grey concrete in thick angles, and industrial metal and glass. In this scene monkey wrench gang”s financiers are having a gathering and undercover FBI agent Johnny – trying to look the part – needs to make further in-roads with quest-seeker Bodhi. Wolf pack member and motorbiking love interest Samsara (Teresa Palmer) also drives this set piece, another clashing motivator for Johnny to get right with his mission or go over the edge. 

Swayze, in the original “Point Break,” had a crippling allure not only because his character cloaked himself with pleasures and chill philosophy, but also because “Point Break” Swayze was arguably peak, deep-tan Swayze. The whole film was pure eye-candy, with its salten air and firebrand Lori Petty, beachy blues, wetsuit Keanu, skydive landscapes and glittering midnight on the waves. 

Similarly, this redux – with its oaths of exotic destinations and breathtaking stunts – has its actors in slammin” physical shape, inked up a constellation of tribal tattoos and, naturally, bustling with unparalleled, foxy hair.

Ramirez has lately landed some intoxicating roles, like an exorcist with personal demons in 2014″s “Deliver Us From Evil,” rock-hard boxer in forthcoming “Hands of Stone” with Robert DeNiro, and co-starring with Jennifer Lawrence in another Christmas Day release, “Joy.” The Venezuelan actor”s earthy and sober babeness hopefully adds to the overall international flavor of this “Point Break.”

“The great stroke of luck was getting Edgar because that is the hard one, that was the hardest to cast. And you look at him and listen to him and you”re like, ‘Yeah that”s Bodhi.” And Edgar is really… one of the great actors right now,” said Kosove. “He has a great body of work and he is incredible and is a very serious fine actor and is great to have.”

“It has been an absolute pleasure to meet someone like Edgar, he is a very intelligent man, caring, funny, and a fantastic actor,” Bracey said of his co-star.

Palmer: “[Ramirez] is completely this Bodhi character he epitomizes so much of who Bodhi is and he is an incredible soul-seeking guy.”

“The thing is I belong to an era, not only in Hollywood but in film in the world at large, that is way more connected and globalized. I feel that more than being an international actor, I am a global actor. An international actor is an actor whose movies are seen all over the world,” Ramirez said. “I have the privilege to work in different territories and different types of cinematographies and that is a huge privilege. In the same way, I was working in Panama this year, I”m working here in a big American movie and then I will be doing a movie in France that is completely different. I think that the world in general is way more open because everything is closer. The impact of technology is undeniable. We”re all really interconnected and more aware of what is happening on the other side of any ocean.”

Surfing is described as Bodhi”s “super power,” in this film – naturally! – so what specifically occurs in the ocean for this “Point Break” may be exactly what brings audiences together on Dec. 25.