Johnny Utah can't remember a time when he wasn't ready to risk everything for a great adrenaline-pumping mountain leap or edge-of-the-cliff motorcycle run. He could always see "the line"—that instinctive path through nearly any obstacle-filled course or deadly jump. He's always been completely fearless, and he's translated that brave fact into a pretty good career as an extreme sports athlete.
Or was it the fact that he was a complete idiot?
That's certainly how he's been feeling over the last couple years. Ever since he put together and pulled off an incredible canyon-leaping stunt that ultimately cost his best friend's life, Johnny hasn't been interested in anything but getting as far away from taking risks as possible.
So he's turned all his attention to training as an FBI agent. ('Cause there's a job that's completely safe!) Johnny has at least consoled himself that any dangers he faces in this job will mean something. It won't just be thrill seeking for the thrill of it.
Of course, this being an action movie and all, there's a particular gang of thrill-seekers that's been popping up on the FBI's radar as of late. It's a band of crooks devoted to stealing outrageously valuable goods and huge sums of money in some equally outrageous ways. They took $100 million worth of diamonds by driving motorbikes through the windows of a 100-story high-rise, for example. And they stole two pallets loaded with cash right out of the back of a transport plane—while it was flying.
Only Johnny can see the pattern. In each of the crimes, these thieves aren't simply pulling off incredible robberies, they're also performing a series of death-defying "ordeals." A very specific series of death-defying ordeals: the ordeals of the Osaki 8. It's a set of nearly impossible challenges designed to stretch an athlete's endurance … and lead him to spiritual enlightenment.
Since Johnny is the only one who understands such high-flying feats, he's also the only one who can do anything about the crime ring's activities. Right? And the only way he can find his way to these men is to keep up with them.
Which will be … quite a crazy risk.
Never mind that whole point about breaking free of your fear. This stuff's way too extreme for that kind of aphorism. So since this kind of stratospheric risk-taking, even in the service of something noble, isn't exactly a slam-dunk positive, we'll have to settle for the following: Someone turns away from an important task to save a man's life, and Johnny struggles to save some innocents from being killed by the thieves.
When Johnny finds and blends in with the daredevil thieves—led by a quiet madcap named Bodhi—he finds that they're really not focused on stealing at all, but on what they see as something of a higher, eco-activist (some would say eco-terrorist) spiritual pursuit.
The Osaki 8 are designed as incredible athletic feats combined with actions that "give back to and heal Mother Nature." And so the guys do things like blowing up a mine to give gold back to its mountain. And they give their stolen riches to the poor as if Robin Hood were an X Games guy. Bodhi clearly states that their supreme goal is "spiritual enlightenment." And when one of their number dies, they burn his body on a pyre and promise to see him in (some sort of) an afterlife.
[Spoiler Warning] Johnny becomes so impacted by this convoluted philosophy that he lets Bodhi venture to his death in one final ordeal. We see a man cross himself.
During a number of party scenes, there are quite a few women baring quite a lot of flesh, dressed in outfits ranging from skimpy dresses to tiny bikinis. The camera then closely ogles them and objectifies them. Johnny meets a free-spirit gal named Samsara, for instance, who is a regular subject of the camera's fawning attentions. We see her in an underwater bikini scene and in a sex scene where she and Johnny strip and intertwine, covered by nothing but their own arms and legs.
The film's nearly nonstop scenes of motorbiking, BASE jumping, free-climbing, monster-wave surfing and super-snowboarding all feel incredibly realistic—and deadly. In nearly every case we see at least one person tumble off to his death—striking rocks or crushing waves as he goes. Johnny is washed down an enormous waterfall and comes up out of the rushing water with bloody scrapes all over his face and arms.
A mid-robbery firefight breaks out between the thieves and local police; men and vehicles are riddled with automatic gunfire. Johnny fights and kills a woman wearing a motorcycle helmet. He follows Bodhi and his men into a back alley fight club in Paris. He and Bodhi jump into a fistfight and bloody each other's faces.
In a terrorist-like action, Bodhi and his gang attack a caravan with their vehicles (driving one transport off the side of a mountain) and then detonate enough explosives to literally cave in the whole mountainside.
Crude or Profane Language
One or two f-words. Six or eight s-words. A handful each of "d--n," "a--," "h---" and "b--ch." God's name is misused a few times. Thieves flash a middle finger to a security camera.
Drug and Alcohol Content
People smoke cigarettes regularly. Several, including Johnny, also puff on a joint. There are two or three party scenes in which revelers drink beer, wine and mixed drinks.
Other Negative Elements
In 1991, the original Point Break was a relatively popular, if broadly ridiculous, movie about a bunch of West Coast surfers. Foiling the Feds at every turn those dastardly dudes went on a "really radical" bank-robbing bender to throw an antiestablishment finger at "the man" while funding their endless-summer lifestyles.
And though surely no one was demanding it, Hollywood has now made an updated version of that thrill-junkie actioner.
This time around, though, director Ericson Core drives a needle full of adrenaline into the original pic's heart and blows the scope out to a global extreme-sports perspective. Why simply rob a few banks and surf a big wave when you can wing-suit through the Swiss Alps, motorbike off 50-story-high mesas in Utah and free-climb impossibly sheer cliffs in Venezuela?
Now, I'll grant that Core has used all his cinematographic skills—honed on films such as Fast and Furious and Daredevil—to capture some truly jaw-dropping and spectacular stunt sequences. But you can forget right now that 2015's Point Break hooked a PG-13 rating while its predecessor was an R, because this new one combines its collection of incredible stunts with a patently problematic story. Beyond the easygoing sexuality and pointless death sequences, the film's brooding and bearded pseudo-intellectual leads are far from the sorts you'd want to hang with—even for a couple of hours. (And that's not just 'cause you'd be hanging off a vertical cliff by your fingertips before the first 30 minutes were up.) Their self-imposed Zen-obsessed spiritual quest of daring death while "connecting" with Mother Earth is almost nonsensically obtuse.
By film's end, I was wishing for the, um, CliffsNotes version. You know, where you could see the vast and awesome panoramas along with a few cool—nonlethal—sports stunts while skipping the messy drama altogether.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Luke Bracey as Johnny Utah; Édgar Ramírez as Bodhi; Teresa Palmer as Samsara; Ray Winstone as Angelo Pappas; Delroy Lindo as FBI Instructor; Clemens Schick as Roach
Ericson Core ( Invincible)
December 25, 2015
March 29, 2016