This weekend on a flight from Germany to Africa I had some free time, and I chose out of Lufthansa’s varied selection of movies the remake of “Point Break”. The original is of course the heroic conflict between Patrick Swayze (may he rest in peace) and Keanu Reeves – and the choice the latter needs to make, whether his loyalty is to his companions or to the law.
That plot worked.
The new “Point Break”, however, has a different plot. This is more a “man against nature and himself” film – played out against the backdrop of the world’s most dangerous physical challenges and these cool, devil-may-care adventurists’ attempts to beat them.
The criminal element is a sub-plot – while in the first “Point Break” it was about the greed of common criminals who looked “cool”, in this second movie the thievery is about some undefined sense of “giving back” – of payback against polluters and evildoers for their destruction of the planet.
In this context, which incidentally would have made a remarkable movie – the adventurers the perfect anti-heroes – the conflict doesn’t work. Because the core conflict – the inner one that is very powerful – becomes about whether or not the young cool FBI agent kowtows to authority (to get a promotion), peddles the bureaucratic line, and kills his friends – who are just trying to “do the right thing” (as he says in a contrived altercation with the head bureaucrat who was flown in to ‘set him straight’ on his duties). All the while his fat, beaten down chain-smoking “partner” says things to him like “this is the job, its mind-numbing but you gotta do it (paraphrase)” – not the inspirational counter-weight to the cool guys to be sure. In this story, without the “good vs. evil” – the plot has you siding with the “bad guys”.
Nevertheless, the shooting is phenomenal – the dialogue mostly works (some is sort of corny) and the scenery is fantastic. More important than that – the connection we have to the aspirations of the characters is strong – especially to the “bad guys”. I like stories where people don’t sweat the small stuff – where they see a goal and they strive for it. Stories of invincible men who stand tall.
My takeaway – I see the movie flash-forwarded ten years. The protagonist is balding and has a layer of fat around his midriff. He smells of friend chicken, has a jelly-donut stain on his shirt and a blank look in his eye as he pushes papers around his desk, accidentally knocking over a carafe of day-old black unsweetened coffee. What’s left of his hair is stringy; his cool-ass tattoos are stretched and faded; he’s probably divorced and most likely lives in a filthy studio apartment. His “partner” has died of a heart attack.
His real friends are worm food – and the beautiful girl that he really loved; well he’d killed her, which I’m sure has led to intense remorse, coupled with repeated bouts of alcoholism and endless therapy.
I must say – my take from this movie. No, I’m not gonna be a criminal blowing up gold mines. But neither will I shoot my friends for a promotion and because a bureaucrat flown in for the occasion tells me to. There’s got to be a third way!!!