17 years later
The writer of ‘Point Break’ is making a sequel. In Singapore, no less. What the hell?
by Billie Cohen
Sequel can be a very dirty word. ‘Basic Instinct 2’, ‘Speed 2’ and ‘Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood’ attest to that. Flub the plot, and the fans revolt; cast it wrong, the fans revolt; wait 17 years after the original, and the fans might do worse than revolt, they might not watch it. But Peter Iliff isn’t worried. After making it in Hollywood with the screenplay for 1991’s ‘Point Break’, he is surprisingly confident he can ride the wave back into the public’s adrenaline-addicted heart with a second instalment – which he will not only write but also direct. It’s a first for him; per imdb. com, his only directing experience so far is an episode of ‘Tales from the Crypt’.
Enter RGM Entertainment, an Australian company that opened an office here in 2005 and recently acquired the rights to the original film. RGM has a small but impressive list of executive producer credits so far, including ‘Winged Creatures’ and ‘The Girl in the Park’, starring Forest Whitaker and Sigourney Weaver, respectively. Now ‘PB2’ has been added to the roster. The irony of basing a surfing movie in Singapore is not lost on RGM’s CEO, Devesh Chetty, but the access to prime surf breaks in our area is the attraction, as is the chance to base post-production work here. Iliff was recently in Singapore – and Bali and Aceh – scouting locations for the movie, which aims to begin filming next year. At the construction site of the Singapore Flyer, where Iliff hopes to stage a monumental chase scene, Time Out quizzed the nonsurfing inventor of Bodhi and Johnny Utah about his comeback.
Why remake ‘Point Break’? It’s been 17 years.
What’s interesting is that because so much time has gone by, we’re not necessarily making a sequel. We’re making another movie, but we’re following the character of the first film, Bodhi. His mates were all killed, and he had a choice: you can go to jail or you can have an honourable death of suicide by wave. And, of course, he survives. And he would flee off the grid to somewhere like Indonesia, which is the last frontier of surfing, and he would create a life here.
He survived that perfect storm?
In truth, only Mark Foo has been killed in big-wave surfing, and it’s probably because his leash held him down. Guys do survive these waves quite often. So what’s interesting is to follow the story of someone who’s set up a new life here, who resumes criminal activities and thus invites attention. This character would now have a family; he would have a stepson who would be a major Indonesian character. There’ll be a new love interest, who’ll be Asian, and coming after this guy would be a new Hollywood character. I don’t want to give it away but it ends very much the same way.
Sticking with a similar formula, eh?
It’s the spirit of the film that made it so incredible: these adrenaline-junkie cowboys who are always trying to one-up each other on thrill-seeking adventures. And Johnny Utah and Bodhi are essentially two peas in a pod but on different sides of the badge. Hopefully with these kind of character issues and this kind of male bonding, it’s going to make the action sequences great. We’re not just jumping out of planes or tow-surfing into some 60-foot wave. There’s a reason behind it, a meaning, a soul and that will make the movie fabulous.
And a little bit sappy.
Well, there are so many action films that fail because you don’t give a damn about the characters, and I think that’s why ‘Point Break’ did so well. Of all the films I’ve been involved with, people always come up to me with an excitement [imitating a stoner’s drawl]: ‘We love that film, we used to watch that every Friday night and then go out and party!’ Now these adrenaline numbskulls are running the studios in Hollywood and they’re in a position to green light our film. [Laughs] So that’s why it’s taken 17 years – all those pot-smoking adrenaline cowboys had to become in charge of our business.
You mentioned some of the characters will be Asian. Did that come about because of the partnership with RGM?
The idea was always to do this film in Asia. I love this culture and it just fits, because if you’re the character Patrick Swayze played in the original, where else would you go? Indonesia is the last frontier of surfing.
Wait, it’s not going to be Patrick Swayze, is it?
We’re in discussions with Patrick.
Really? You would bring him back?
Is it supposed to be 17 years after the last one left off?
Yes. He would not be the main character; he would have a son-in-law who is now an Asian character. So Bodhi will play his age and hopefully it will be Patrick.
Does it worry you that the last Patrick Swayze movie sequel, the one to ‘Dirty Dancing’, didn’t do very well?
No, because as a young man I grew up loving mature men in action films: Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra as an older man. I loved these tough, wise macho men and I think it’s frankly time to re-create Patrick in a really sexy, virile manner.
Is that possibly because you’re aging as well?
Uncomfortable pause, then laughs] Well, that’s a whole other issue. But it stems from my childhood love of the older man as a character, and whether we get Patrick or not, it will be the Bodhi character from the 1991 film 17 years later as a man in his early 50s.
Any thoughts on the younger actors?
You’ll have to wait and see. We want to launch an actor who is hot but hasn’t gotten to this level yet.
Are you a surfer?
No, I was always a terrible surfer. I love the water, but I had terrible eyesight – I’m a writer, I had Coke-bottle eyes. I only got Lasik recently, so now that I can see the waves I’m actually taking surf lessons with my son.
Will you have cameos from big surfer names?
We’re going to open the film at a big pro surf meet in Hawaii, and there’ll be an incident that will get the main character kicked off the tour and he will think his next place in life is in law enforcement. But I’m not going to divulge exactly what happens. We have a definite criminal activity in mind for Singapore and South-East Asia that hasn’t been seen before on film.
It sounds kind of like the first one.
It’s going to be a very different story, but we’re going to be careful to keep what we think made the first one successful, which are basic themes of two characters who are the same but are on different sides of the law, and greed. So we’re going to keep those aspects but present a whole new film with a new criminal activity and new and bigger and badder stunts. I think that’s the key to our success.
You haven’t directed a feature film before, and yet you’re talking about huge stunts and scope…
Yeah, this is my debut, and it’s so exciting. I was waiting tables in Malibu, California, when I sold the original film in ’87, and ever since then I’ve been the quintessential Hollywood screenwriter living the life. Now it’s 20 years later and it’s a privilege and honour that my new friends are giving me this opportunity. But also, how appropriate that it’s the sequel to the film that gave me a career. ‘
'Point Break 2' is expected out in 2008.