When a group of Robin Hood-inspired thieves start pulling off daring, epic heists around the world, the FBI turns to young agent and extreme sports fan Johnny Utah (Bracey) to infiltrate the gang...
Whatever the faults of director Kathryn Bigelow’s 1991 thriller, which saw Keanu Reeves’ FBI rookie Johnny Utah going undercover to catch Patrick Swayze’s surfer criminal Bodhi, a lack of fun is not among them. Here, despite co-opting the basic concept of a daring criminal gang and the undercove agent seduced by their philosophy, this ambitious reboot fails to generate any of the same excitement.
The script plumps for the sort of merciless cliché avalanche you wouldn’t survive even if you were an expert snowboarder.
That’s surprising, given the effort here to make pulses race with the action elements. The crimes and their associated stunts are ramped up to better fit a world accustomed to the physics-defying antics of the Fast & Furious franchise — so the gang release pallets of money from a cargo plane and skydive after it, or take a death-defying wingsuit flight through a canyon. Director Ericson Core and the adventure-sports experts he drafted in aim for a high level of realism in their snowboarding, surfing and rock-climbing sequences (very much unlike the Fast movies), but the result never translates into a truly exciting high-stakes thriller. The admittedly impressive stunt work often makes this look like a documentary about daredevils rather than a narrative feature; in the wingsuits sequence, for example, the helmets remove any visual connection to the cast.
But the film is truly undone by the script, which plumps for the sort of merciless cliché avalanche you wouldn’t survive even if you were an expert snowboarder. There is waffling about the spiritual nature of the crimes, a few moments ripped directly from Bigelow’s original film, and another look at the loyalty-shifting battle of wits between the main characters. There’s no emotional weight for Édgar Ramirez’s would-be Bodhi or the brah-ish Luke Bracey, as Utah, to work with. You won’t root for anyone, so the story feels like a poor photocopy of the original with a lot of unnecessary padding.
A joyless and pointless remake. The new take on Bodhi and co. squanders a potentially enjoyable premise and rarely delivers, except on the occasional stunt.