When dealing with a remake, it’s easy to ask why filmmakers don’t aim to be better than the original, but it’s also easy to understand that “better” is both subjective and hard to pull off. Bigger, however, is not. And that’s what the Point Break remake will be… bigger in scope than the original, with more kick-ass stunts, a seemingly global story, and beautiful natural locales that beat the hell out of a beach in California. Bigger doesn’t always get the job done, though.
The original Point Break has persevered because of the characters (and the actors that played them). Will the new version, whose trailer debuted yesterday, match up? It’s hard to say, but as unfair as it is to judge a film by its trailer, that’s exactly what I did in an effort to compare the characters from Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 film to the versions of those characters that we’ll see when Point Break debuts this Christmas.
1991 Bodhi: Patrick Swayze played the leader of the “Ex-Presidents” with a mix of surfer ethos and spiritualism; the waves spoke to him, the rush mattered a great deal, but it also seemed as though he was dedicated to a bloodless transaction when his gang pulled a robbery… that is until the very end. Those traits plus Swayze’s natural charm combined to create an almost lovable rogue and someone that you could excuse Utah for being drawn to because you were drawn to him, as well.
2015 Version: This isn’t at all fair because few people can match Swayze’s magnetism, but it doesn’t seem like they’re trying very hard with the modern take on the character. Here, Edgar Ramirez appears to be the leader of a group of thrill-seeking Robin Hood types; their penchant for “liberating” money and releasing it over impoverished lands is the kind of thing that is supposed to make us care about them. But in the trailer, it’s made clear that this version of Bodhi is more reckless and indifferent to collateral damage — “Bodhi, do you have any idea how many people you’ve killed?” — and that makes it hard to connect with the character. Though, it seems like we’re supposed to be in awe of this version of Bodhi — with his smile, his sexy accent, his party-hard lifestyle, his devil-may-care attitude and the spectacle of his stunts — more than we’re supposed to actually care about him.
1991 Johnny Utah: Keanu Reeves plays Johnny Utah, a former standout college quarterback with a rebellious streak who joins the bank-robbery division of the FBI, who quickly finds himself getting too comfortable with Swayze’s group of questing surfers/secret criminals and Lori Petty’s soulful surfer girl.
2015 Version: It’s hard to get much of a read on Luke Bracey’s take on the character from just the trailer, but he seems to have Keanu’s “Whaaaaa?” vacant-stare thing down pat.
One big difference, though, is that this version of Johnny Utah is already familiar with the extreme sports lifestyle that Bodhi’s gang subscribes to, so there won’t be any transformative epiphanies connected to the magic of surfing or skydiving. Just more extremeness, brah.
1991 Angelo Pappas: Gary Busey’s teeth co-stars as Utah’s slightly burnt out partner and the one who first connects surfers to a gang of presidential mask-wearing bank robbers. He has a healthy disdain for authority, rocks some pretty dope Tommy Bahama apparel, throws a mean punch, and is desperately looking for his cockapoo. He is Johnny’s only friend in the FBI, but that and a couple of dollars will get him a meatball sandwich. Maybe two.
2015 Version: Ray Winstone steps in as Angelo and offers a few sage and gravelly words to Johnny about Bodhi’s gang and he rocks a shotgun in the trailer. It seems like Johnny Utah is the one who comes up with the theory about the gang being a roving pack of ex-X-games athletes (or whatever), though, so Angelo’s usefulness is already fading. My guess is that he’ll be more of a sounding board and advocate for Johnny, and less involved in the actual investigation than he was in the original. I don’t see this film taking a few moments away from BASE jumping in Kuala Lumpur to follow Angelo and Johnny as they bust up the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ drug den.
Wouldn’t it be amazing if Anthony Kiedis just has a surprise walk-through cameo in this? With the same haircut. And a limp.
1991 Tyler: Johnny takes to the waves, but Tyler truly opens his heart. Lori Petty was the perfect choice for the tough-on-the-outside surfer girl who was wrecked by Johnny’s deception, but in the end, the character was merely used as a “women in refrigerators” trope.
2015 Version: Tyler has been replaced by Samsara, who is played by Teresa Palmer. The trailer doesn’t give us much to go on, but it’s clear that Samsara gets in on some of the surfing, is a part of Bodhi’s group, and has some heat with Johnny Utah. Why the change away from Tyler? Maybe she’s more of an active participant in the high-flying crimeyness and less a damsel in distress? That’s one change I wouldn’t mind, actually.
1991 Ben Harp: As Harp, John C. McGinley is full throttle angry from the word go, telling Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Utah that he “know[s] nothing.” Before continuing: “In fact, you know less than nothing. If you knew that you knew nothing, then that would be something, but you don’t.”
And you thought JD had it bad on Scrubs? At least Dr. Cox never called him a “real blue-flame special,” or told him that he was “young, dumb, and full of cum.” Or maybe he did — I didn’t watch Season 9.
2015 Version: There is no “Ben Harp” listed on the IMDb page for the remake, but Delroy Lindo’s FBI supervisor character could fit the bill, even though he seems more supportive than Harp was in his trailer snippet.
James Le Gros and Bojesse Christopher both have cameos as FBI higher-ups in this film after playing robbers/surfers Roach and Grommet in the original. Maybe they’ll be the ones to lay down the rules that Johnny Utah doesn’t play by. Goodness knows — someone has to.