If there’s one thing we learned from watching the first ever footage from the new Point Break remake at this week’s CinemaCon 2015 in Las Vegas, it’s that director Ericson Core is trying his damnedest to honor the spirit of Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 cult favorite about a young cop Johnny Utah (played by the inimitable Keanu Reeves) and surfer Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), whom he befriends while working undercover to stop his gang of criminals. This time around, the gang indulges in not only surfing and skydiving, but all manner of extreme sports, including motorbike racing and wingsuit flying. And while several specific scenes from the original are nodded to, such as in one shot we saw of a mid-air heist, the overall zen of Point Break appears to be maintained, with Bodhi (pictured above, as played by Edgar Ramirez) again a spiritual man following his own code and Utah (pictured below, as played by Australian actor and Heath Ledger lookalike Luke Bracey) the lawman trying to find himself, who’s beguiled by Bodhi even while tasked with bringing him to justice.
The one character who appears less present this time around is Gary Busey’s Angelo Pappas, reportedly now played by Ray Winstone. I can’t recall even seeing him in the footage that Warner Bros screened. More prominent is Utah’s boss, played by Delroy Lindo, who got a few lines, mostly on the order of “Utah, what kind of criminals are we dealing with here?!” and “You think you’re brothers?” Utah is even more of an admitted seeker this time. When asked by Bodhi, “What are you doing here?” he replies, “I’m here because I need to find out who I am.”
The highlight of the footage was an extended scene in which the gang and a reluctant Utah jump off a cliff in their wingsuits, each a different color, and soar around a mountain, across a grassy hill, through mist and trees, and eventually into a canyon; with Utah and Bodhi embracing upon landing. Beautifully shot and presented in immersive 3D, it definitely did the job of making us find Bodhi’s adrenaline-fueled lifestyle as enticing as Utah does.
Other action shots included Utah jumping on top of a cable car suspended in midair, the gang parachuting in black skydiving suits into a cave, and of course surfing forty-foot monster waves. The footage ended with a harrowing shot of Bodhi jumping off a mountain without any gear at all — and Utah jumping after him.
The most prominent new character is a female gang member (the original film’s gang, you’ll recall, was comprised entirely of men). Played by Bracey’s fellow Aussie Teresa Palmer (who was previously believed to be playing Lori Petty’s character from the original, Tyler Endicott), her name is Samsara, though little was revealed of her in the footage.
After the screening, we attended a press conference with the cast (sans Ramirez, who was busy shooting), in which Bracey admitted he still can’t believe he got to play Johnny Utah. We’ll have the transcript of this entire press conference for you closer to the film’s release. After the press conference, I briefly chatted with director Ericson Core, who told me Ramirez had so much respect for the original film that he asked Kathryn Bigelow for her blessing before signing on for the remake. Nice.
Point Break hits theaters on December 25, 2015.