Kathryn Bigelow's 1991 surfing-and-bank-robbing actioner Point Break remains a deliriously improbable good time. (Valley boy Keanu Reeves as a serious FBI agent? Buddhist surfers doubling as violent thieves?) It has a slew of champions, but hasn't quite reached the echelon of Untouchable Cult Classic, so the idea of a remake isn't sacrilege.
But there are two rules that no version of Point Break should disobey: Don't skimp on surfing and never be boring. That's two unpardonable strikes against new helmsman Ericson Core, who also photographed this stiff, humorless, tension-free remake in drab 3D.
He's given the agent, Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey), a pro-BMXer past, so the stunts are mostly staged on land: mountain biking, rope-free climbing and a bat-like form of hang-gliding called wingsuit flying. Core reportedly used no CGI, and some of the trickery is striking, but the surf sequences that bookend the film are passable at best.
As in the original, Utah infiltrates daredevil spiritualist Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez) and his roughneck gang on the correct hunch that they are heisters and becomes, like them, an adrenaline junkie. (In a dull twist, Core turns the thieves into philanthropists, raining cash on poor villagers).
The casting is fatally ho-hum. Bracey never makes thinking itself look like a gargantuan feat, as Reeves so charmingly did, and Ramírez, while aptly hirsute and macho, possesses none of Patrick Swayze's balletic presence. The love interest (Teresa Palmer) lacks the sassy sarcasm of Lori Petty's surfer girl; the jaded older partner (Ray Winstone, who's no Gary Busey) is enervated. Where are Busey's "I was takin' shrapnel in Khe Sanh…" rants when you need 'em?