Yesterday, I went to Las Vegas and met Johnny Utah. He’s Australian. And he’s just as excited to be playing Johnny Utah as anyone who grew up watching Point Break should be. “I can’t believe I’m in the movie,” said Luke Bracey, Utah-incarnate. “I still can’t believe I’m Johnny Utah. I got the call that they were thinking of auditioning me, and for the next week, me and my friends lived our lives purely by quotes from the movie.”
I flew to that filthy, glittering, polluted mirage in the middle of the desert two days ago with the founder of this little ship of the interwebs, Zach Weisberg. I wore a new white shirt that I’d never worn before, one with a collar because it was Las Vegas, and I wanted to look like I didn’t usually have dirty feet. I wanted to look Vegas! With Elvis glasses and poker chips. Jesus! Waves of paranoia, madness, fear and loathing; intolerable vibrations in this place. Get out! The weasels were closing in. I could smell the ugly brutes!
Within five minutes of setting foot into the lobby of that Gomorrah that is Caesar’s Palace, I had a splotch of ruby red lasagna on my new white shirt and a straw full of Mai Tai in my mouth. Women with legs to the ceiling. Gold and glitter and shiny filth! Johnny Utah was somewhere in this giant, gaudy building, full of beautifully ugly women and men with sweating, hairy legs beneath leather Las Vegas pants. Johnny Utah was somewhere behind those giant indoor fountains; he was hiding behind one of those giant indoor statues. Johnny Fucking Utah was somewhere in Las Vegas. He. Is. An. EFF BEE EYE AGENT.
For those of you who don’t know, surfing’s most famous film is being remade. Point Break is breaking again. It’s not Point Break 2, the studios want you to know. It’s not a sequel. It’s a remake. And it’s different. It’s more. It’s POINT BREAK, all caps. “I thought that there was something about the psyche of an extreme athlete that we could bring to the story,” said Ericson Core, a man who wears a full bandana and also directed the film. “The original Point Break was about a group of guys robbing banks for an endless summer, and we wanted to expand it beyond that and work with extreme athletes and their relationship with nature.”
Remember those floating faces on the surfing scenes in the original Point Break? Those aren’t to be included–not because they’re not using CGI, (which they’re not), but because they enlisted some of the most insane people in the world to actually do all of the stunts in the film.
“It would have been a lot easier to shoot on a green screen stage, but we opted to go to the actual places, because the locations are part of the characters,” Core continued. “The athletes were really the ones who led us to the most incredible places on earth. We went to Hawaii, Laird’s home, because it was the best and most legitimate place to do the work.”
Laird sat a few seats to the director’s left. “It was Ericson’s intention to portray us how we are and try and capture the invisible thing that we feel that makes us dedicate our lives to it. Then you have something magic,” he said from underneath his hair.
The new film is much more than just surfing. The most insane wing suit scenes ever were filmed with Jhonathan Florez, Jon Devore, and Jeb Corliss, three of the best flyers on the planet, who strapped twelve pound cameras to their heads, jumped off a cliff, and flew at 150 miles an hour through a narrow gorge with five other people in tight formation low enough to drag their feet through the grass. And they did it time after time, just like Cyndi Lauper, only they were close to dying every single take. One hundred and nine takes, to be exact. One hundred and nine takes, each one literally inches from death. Wing suit flying is, by far, the most extreme of the extreme sports. If big wave surfing is eating celery, then wing suit flying is snorting wasabi and squirting Tabasco up your ass.
After six more very strong mai tais, two very weak beers, a small plate of calamari, Sophia Vergara/Resse Witherspoon/the Rock/Kevin Dillon sightings, three cuba libres with very stale limes that were made unstale by very strong rum, and a panel led by (of course!) Sal Masakela, who made an off-color joke about being the black guy, I saw Johnny Utah. I saw two of him, from the rum.
He doesn’t look like Keanu Reeves. But he’s not Keanu Reeves! He’s Luke fucking Bracey! He’s the new Johnny Utah! Can you imagine the pressure? He’s not a giant mega-star type guy, although he looks like one. He was a guy who acted, and he was a guy who surfed, and he was a guy who watched Point Break a thousand times growing up. And now he’s a guy who will be the new Johnny Utah. He brimmed with excitement. And I for one am also brimming with excitement, because there is a new Point Break. How cool is that?
Only thing is…we have to wait until December to see it.