‘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.