For all the faults you can aim at Kathryn Bigelow’s original, it was still a hugely entertaining action film with a believable bromance at its core. While this remake has a few entertaining action beats, it’s obviously not a patch on the original and it does make you question why they decided to remake it in the first place. Oh right, of course. Money.
This time round the action has been transferred to the realm of extreme sports enthusiasts. Utah (Luke Bracey) is a former extreme sports fanatic who, after the death of a friend in a stunt jump that went wrong (here’s a thought – take a parachute with you), has signed up as a rookie cop, atoning for his past life or something to that effect. With his barely concealed tattoos and long hair, Utah is a broken man. But what could possibly break him out of this mental fugue and desire to uphold the law?
Why, an undercover encounter with a daredevil gang of extreme sports fanatics who are working their way through a series of eight extreme trials (the Ozaki 8) across the globe, stealing from big corporations as they do so. They are led by the not-Patrick Swayze Bodhi (Edgar Ramirez).
In what I’m assuming is the Gary Busey role from the original, Ray Winstone shows up, receives his pay cheque, then toddles off again. Other than the fact it’s Ray Winstone – and it’s never made clear what accent he’s supposed to have – there’s really no point him being there. And, indeed, the same accusation could be attributed to the rest of this dreary exercise.
There’s no emotional depth to the characters which would inform their actions or their reasons. While there are occasionally breathtaking extreme sports sequences, including an impressive wing-suit flight through the mountains, there is a disconnect between the high octane thrills and the characters that is hard to reconcile.
There are a few scenes or references from the original that are pulled out here. They’re like old favourites made to dance for the paying audience, but almost completely lacking in context. That one iconic moment, where Utah refuses to shoot Bodhi as he makes his escape, is included for giggles. The problem is that in this instance there’s almost no reason for Utah to do this. His bond with Bodhi has the same consistency as silly string or wet bread.
And this leads us to the finale where, much like the original, Bodhi is out on the waves so he can attempt to best one of the biggest surf waves ever. It isn’t a spoiler for me to say that Utah shows up, has a few words and then leaves. It was almost pointless him going there. Much any other scene in the film not involving an action stunt, the scene is lifeless and wooden and ultimately offers no closure.
The only genuinely positive thing I have to say about this car crash is the end credit music, which is half decent. It’s a strange thing to say, but while sitting through this I was yearning for the Bigelow helmed original and its big, dumb, homoerotic nonsense. At least that had a point. In this instance, I reached my breaking point.