(Video on Demand, April 2016) My memories of the original 1991 Point Break are hazy at best, but even approaching this 2015 remake nearly-fresh doesn’t do much to make it better. As a set of extreme sports footage loosely connected by a nonsensical plot, this version of Point Break is either impressive or dull depending on which aspect of the film is discussed. Reflecting its time, the version of the film is about spectacle more than plot: Director Ericson Core has managed to get some amazing footage in shooting the extreme-sports highlights of the film, whether it’s dirt-biking on Utah Mountains, surfing in Tahiti, wing-suiting in the Alps or cliff-climbing in Venezuela. At its most basic level, at least this Point Break has something to offer viewers on a purely visual level, and the fact that most of it feels captured without too many special effects feels like a plus. (The heavily post-processed coda is a bad exception, especially given how it concludes the film.) Unfortunately, there isn’t much in the connecting sequences, which barely warrant a look if you’re fast-forwarding to the next thrilling sequence: By taking the robbers/surfers of the original and making them super-extreme-supercool terrorists/adventurers, Point Break separates itself from reality but, perhaps more importantly, from the focus of the relationship between its two leads. Our supercool characters can seemingly master a dozen different specialties in time for their next death-defying stunts, in-between mounting complicated criminal activities that, frankly, don’t serve much purpose. It doesn’t take a lot to blow gaping holes in whatever this Point Break claims as substance, and regret that the emphasis on spectacle has effectively neutered the strengths of the original. Even the actors seem a bit lost: Edgar Ramirez, normally so effective, doesn’t have much to do here, whereas newcomer Luke Bracey doesn’t do much but being good-looking in the most generic way. For a film with a few dramatic turns, this Point Break doesn’t let emotional turmoil affect its characters longer than five minutes or so. The result may occasionally be spectacular, but there’s little doubt that few will cherish this remake for its handful of action sequences. The lack of an emotional centre will doom this film to a quick exit from pop memory.
(On Cable TV, September 2015) I’m not sure there’s anything objectively wrong about Deliver us From Evil, but neither can I say that there’s anything exceptional about it. While there is some interest in tackling demonic possession as seen from the perspective of a hardened NYPD veteran, the film soon heads for familiar pastures, and doesn’t really get to show anything worthwhile. Eric Bana does fine work as the cop protagonist, with Olivia Munn and Joel McHale turning in short yet credible dramatic presences, but all of them are overshadowed by Edgar Ramirez’s compelling turn as an unusual priest facing ultimate evil. Director Scott Derrickson follows-up his much superior Sinister with a decent atmosphere (grimy and dark and realistic and, alas, rather dull), but the script is too derivative to be particularly interesting. Too long at nearly two hours for the rather slight amount of substance it contains, Deliver Us From Evil ends up being a middle-of-the-road hybrid between police procedural and demonic possession horror, something that works well enough to escape mediocrity, but not enough to leave an impression.