Why “Point Break” is this era’s “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”

HollywoodNews.com: The film world rolled their eyes in collective disgust yesterday after it was announced that Warner Bros. was financing and/or distributing a remake of Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break. That 1991 cult-favorite of course starred Keanu Reeves as FBI Agent Johnny Utah, who goes undercover as a surfer to catch a gang of bank robbers, led by Patrick Swayze, who pull heists to finance their endless summer. The film is cheesy to the point of being high opera, but I always admired how straight-faced it was, and how seriously it took its violence. The picture takes awhile to achieve a body count, but when it does, its jolting. In this film, the loss of any life, be it an innocent bank guard or one of the robbers, was tragic and cause for mourning. And the finale was refreshingly grim, acknowledging that a violent crime story doesn’t have a happy ending just because the bad guys all died.

Anyway, the film is now best known for an uncommonly over-the-top Keanu Reeves performance, which I’ve argued is pretty much the basis for the countless cheap jokes at his expense. When people call Reeves a bad actor, they are referring to his (I’d argue appropriately) hammy turn as Johnny Utah (he’s usually very understated in that Harrison Ford/Kevin Costner fashion that is often mistaken for ‘wooden’). The film has even inspired a bawdy comic stage show, where a member of the audience is picked out to play Utah in their best/worst Keanu Reeves impression as the rest of the actors perform the film mostly verbatim in a most overindulgent fashion. It’s funny, but merely serves to remind us that anything and everything can be mocked if viewed from a satirical point of view or when performed incorrectly. For example, there is a reason you cast John C. McGinley to read dialogue plainly written for John C. McGinley). So anyway, yes, yet another not-quite classic from the mid-1980s or early 1990s is getting a remake.

BUT, you ask… hasn’t Point Break already been remade? Wasn’t there an unofficial remake of the picture back in summer 2001? Wasn’t it merely a recasting and a change in venue, going from surfers and bank robbery to street racing and truck hijacking? It’s no secret that the original Fast and the Furious is basically a carbon copy of Point Break, from the general character arch types (Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze and Lori Petty = Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, and Jordanna Brewster) to pretty much every major story beat. They end in almost the same fashion, although hopes for a franchise prevented the film from mimicking the predecessor’s grim fate for the street racing rogues. The fact that Point Break has already had an unofficial remake yet again brings to mind something that I’ve been harping on for awhile: that I miss the age when studios would merely rip off their older movies rather than just remake them. In this current cycle, Disturbia would be almost refreshing, as it is merely a riff on Rear Window and Fright Night instead of an out-and-out remake of either of those pictures (it’s also 20x better than the recent Fright Night remake, natch).

Photo by 20th Century Fox

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One Comment

  • September 17, 2011 | Permalink |

    It’s ripe for a remake.
    Shia LaBeouf, Penn Badgley or Chace Crawford as FBI Agent Johnny Utah
    Chad Michael Murray as Bodhi
    Simon Pegg or Eddie Izzard as FBI Agent Angelo Pappas
    Mischa Barton, Sophia Bush, Kat Dennings or Leighton Meester as Tyler Endicott

    There shouldn’t be a scene in the remake where Utah is beaten up by a naked woman.
    Utah should have be a hardcore badass like Liam Neeson in Taken.
    They must include the below quote from the original film in the remake:
    “lt’s time for lunch. Around that corner is a sandwich shop. They sell meatball sandwiches. Best l’ve ever tasted. Would you go get me two? Come on, partner. Two. Thank you. Utah! Get me two!”

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