POINT BREAK Is Not About A FBI Story Or A Character Drama At All. Its All About Extreme Sport & Its Spiritual Core That Drives People To Find Their Limit.
I expect a natural inclination to revisit and make comparisons to Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 cult action film of the same name that follows FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) as he goes undercover to infiltrate a cache of Southern California surfers suspected of robbing banks. That’s about as I would encourage you to go as you walk in to watch this new film. While there are similar thematic elements that were used as inspiration, there is nothing of a remake at all here.
Here is how the typical description of this 2015 film would look like: Thrill-seeking criminals perform a series of daredevil stunts to steal money and gems, only to give it away to the poor and less fortunate. Training for a job with the FBI, young recruit Johnny Utah is handed the enigmatic case of Robin Hood heists in Mumbai and Mexico, in which American conglomerates were targeted and the loot was distributed among the poor.
Utah suspects that only extreme athletes could pull off these heists. He puts his extreme-sports experience to good use, identifying the perpetrators as fellow athletes trying to pass the legendary Ozaki Eight — a series of “Ordeals” honoring the forces of Nature around the planet, laid down by environmentalist-guru Ozaki Ono, who died attempting the third one.Utilizing his own special skills, Utah infiltrates the gang of athletes after befriending their charismatic leader, Bodhi (played by Edgar Ramirez).
Ericson Core’s incarnation of POINT BREAK is really about one thing, extreme sports, and the film handles those sequences extremely well. Shooting in a number of treacherous and visually impressive locations, including Venezuela’s Angel Falls and the Cave of Swallows in Mexico. The locations are actually spread over Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, Mexico, Venezuela, French Polynesia, India and the United States, all of which are spectacular in both their otherworldly beauty and their inhospitality.
Having cut his teeth lensing fast-track blockbusters like “The Fast and the Furious” and “Payback” before helming “Invincible,” Core, who also filmed the movie, has poured his expertise into devising jaw-dropping stunts and visualizing awesome natural wonders. The film starts with a daredevil freestyle motocross sequence in the Arizona desert that sees Utah (played by Australian Luke Bracey) lose his best friend in a tragic accident.
What really sets it apart is having actual extreme sport athletes involved in the production and shooting the film, which offers some brilliant POV shots. The outstanding visual effects fully taps into the cinematic potential of such dynamic sports as base jumping, sheer-face snowboarding, wingsuit-flying, free climbing and big-wave surfing. Aerial shots of the characters floating between the canyons like puffy cushions in their wingsuits are at once goofy and sheer visual poetry, while the scene in which Bodhi and Utah hang off a practically vertical cliff by their fingers is a milestone in novelty as well as composition.
The sheer range of sports represented here (surfing 70-foot waves, snowboarding, wingsuit flying, free rock climbing, and high-speed motorcycle stunts) through whiz-bang stunt choreography, were all performed by champions in their field. Core showed his true talent as a cinematographer, capturing some of the world’s most accomplished extreme athletes doubling as the film’s characters as they perform death-defying stunts against breathtaking backdrops which rival anything attempted by the Fast & Furious franchise.
Renowned extreme athletes performing stunts in the film included surfers Makua Rothman, Billy Kemper, Brian Keaulana and Ahanu Tson-dru; snowboarders Lucas DeBari, Ralph Backstrom, Mitch Toelderer, Mike Basich and Xavier De La Rue; motorcyclists Riley Harper and Oakley Lehman; wingsuit stunt pilots Jeb Corliss, Jon Devore, Julian Boulle, Noah Bahnson and Mike Swanson; and free climber Chris Sharma, as well as Bob Burnquist, Xavier de le Rue, Jeb Corliss, John Devore, Jonathan Florez, Laird Hamilton, Dylan Longbottom, Iouri Podladtchikov, Laurie Towner and Ian Walsh).
The rest of the incredible production team behind Ericson Core included Oscar-winning editor Thom Noble (“Thelma & Louise,” “Witness”), production designer Udo Kramer (“North Face,” “The Physician”) and Oscar-nominated costume designer Lisy Christl (“Anonymous,” “White House Down”).
This distinctive superyacht Ocean Emerald designed by Sir Norman Foster served as the spectator-platform and a party place during one of the early scenes in the film of surfers competing against 70-foot waves crashing in Biarritz in the south of France.
FILMING LOCATIONS YOU CAN VISIT Filmed on four continents using pro athletes in place of stuntmen, Point Break pits high-stakes stunts against the primal forces of nature. From the world’s tallest waterfall to a massive fissure in the Alps, these are the real-life locales you can visit from the film.
Caineville, Utah, United States
Colloquially known as “Swingarm City,” Caineville is a mecca for motocross riders the world over thanks to its miles of undulating, dusty terrain. In the film, extreme-athlete-turned FBI agent Johnny Utah (Luke Bracey) and his buddy ride on some of the most extreme routes the area has to offer before jumping their bikes onto a narrow butte.
Cave of Swallows, Mexico
Utah first sniffs out his targets when he discovers that they jumped out of a cargo plane straight down into the Cave of Swallows, the world’s largest cave shaft. Diving in here from the sky might seem pretty nuts, but the 1,220-foot-deep pit is actually a popular BASE jumping location in real life. The pit cave also teems with flocks of swifts and parakeets, which it is named for.
To capture the big-wave action, the filmmaker shot at one of the premier surf locations on the planet: Though the film’s surf scene takes place off the coast of France, it was actually filmed in the blue swells just south of Tahiti, where wave heights can climb into the double digits.
Point Break’s biggest stunt features four guys jumping off the Jungfrau, a peak in the Swiss Alps, and flying through a massive fissure in the mountains—a feat known as “Grinding the Crack.” The athletes in the suits performed the flight about 60 times to get all the angles, leaping from mountain heights to the crystal-clear Lake Walensee in the valley below.
Aiguille de la Grande Sassière, France
While snowboarding down the snow-covered side of this 12,300-foot-high mountain, the boarders in the film accidentally triggered a Class 4 avalanche—talk about a “whoops” moment.
Falzarego Pass, Italy
Bodhi (Édgar Ramírez) and his group of daredevil eco-criminals attempt to pull off gold-mining sabotage from the vantage point of this scenic road that winds its way through Italy’s Dolomites. The route was originally carved out to provide access to the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina.
Hall in Tirol, Austria
The film’s high-altitude bank heist takes place in Tofana, Italy—a fictional location that’s actually Hall in Tirol, a medieval town in western Austria. Owing its early prosperity to salt mining, Hall is home to a historical district brimming with well-preserved Gothic architecture.
Angel Falls, Venezuela
At a jaw-dropping 3,212 feet high, Angel Falls is the tallest uninterrupted waterfall in the world. Naturally, this makes it the perfect spot for Bodhi and Utah to do a little free climbing on the sheer cliff face of Auyán-tepu, the tabletop mountain from which the falls spring.