Starring: Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey, Lori Petty
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Film length: 2hrs, 3min
Theatrical Release: July 12, 1991
Blu-ray release: 2011
Like Demolition Man, Point Break is another film that has been around forever and had managed to pass me by. I would get mixed signals from people who had watched the film before I did. Some really love it and could rap off quotes at the mere mention of its title. Others had completely written it off as trash and would tell me not to bother with it. The general consensus I got from the most, however, was it is a cheesy but fun film. Overall, I got the vibe that this is a cult classic that I would have to see and judge for myself.
The transfer from film to 1080p is not ideal on this print. Any dark scenes, like where The Swaze and Keanu are dude/brahing it up with the football on the beach are washed out. And bright scenes, like the skydiving one, are laden with film grain. Overall it’s not a terrible looking Blu-ray, but it is not good either.
Another competent DTS-HD soundtrack. The crashing waves and gun shots packed enough punch, and dialogue was clear through the center channel even while some characters wore masks. There is not as much range between the high and low end as I’d like, but there are no problems here.
Extra Features (2/5)
The back of the box boasts how this disc includes four featurettes, but what is really here is one 30 minute documentary broken up into four parts. It is quite entertaining however, and in HD. Everyone (except Reeves… They use clips from 1991 for him…) returns to give an insight about their part in the film and share some memories. They even manage to get The Swaze in before his untimely departure from our planet. Despite this there really isn’t much else here. Some deleted scenes that are not worth your time and a theatrical trailer which you can watch on YouTube. Meh, overall.
The Film (2/5)
Before you get angry at the score here remember two things: 1) My opinion is not a reflection in any way about how you feel about this film. We kind of need to remind ourselves of that from time to time. And 2) A 2/5 film can still be OK in my books and Point Break does fall into that category.
Point Break takes place in a surf town on the Pacific coast in Southern California. There have been a rash of armed robberies that target banks by a gang known as “The Ex-Presidents”. The gang receives their name from disguising themselves with masks of former presidents Reagan, Nixon, Carter, and LBJ. Their rule is to never hit the vault and stick to only taking cash from bank teller registers. This means a smaller score, but it allows them to strike quick and get out fast. This strategy has earned them over 30 successful robberies and this run is becoming an embarrassment for the FBI .
Special Agent Johnny Utah (Reeves) is fresh out of training and lands the plum assignment of catching The Ex-Presidents. He is partnered with veteran agent Pappas (Busey) who has a theory that the gang is made up of surfers based on when and where they hit banks. Alas, Pappas is a bit of a flake so the department isn’t willing to support his theory, but feels free to make him eat shit every day that goes by without any arrests.
Pappas convinces Utah to go undercover as the new surfer in town and infiltrate the gang from within. While undercover, Utah befriends surfer and adrenaline junkie Brodi (Swayze) who quickly accepts him as a peer and brings him into the world of brah surfer-hood. It is here that Utah’s loyalties are put to the test as everything isn’t as innocent as it seems…brah.
Point Break has a decent premise for an action film and most of it is paced well enough, but it isn’t problem-free. The story falls apart towards the end as the identity of the gang is revealed relatively early on for this type of film. It is at this point they conveniently become a gang who makes dumb decisions instead of clever ones. They are now violent which they always had been careful about avoiding before. After an extended chase scene were Utah’s cover is blown, both sides continue to pretend like it never happened so the gang can continue to give him life lessons. Why? They barely know each other as they’ve spent only a few weeks together. Perhaps they were a bit shaken up knowing that a FBI agent was so close to catching them, but the way they go about handling it defies logic. Their quickness now to make rash decisions didn’t feel plausible to me and was a little too convenient.
Reeves acting in this film is a whole other level of ass-itude. Every line of dialogue he delivers is with the same cadence. Whether he is getting shot at, arguing with Busey, or feeling goosebumps on his girlfriend’s arm, he emotes a steady amount of lifelessness into the words. It was as if the script was in front of him and he was reading it for the first time. I suppose if you watched this film a few dozen times you might be more forgiving and find some charm to it. I found it distracting as a first time viewer and it kept pulling me away from this film that I wanted to enjoy.
What stood out to me/Memorable moments
There is not as much surfing as I thought there would be
It plays an important part at the beginning of the film but is quickly forgotten about somewhere in the middle. The last surfing scene is wrapped up during the 46min mark and we still have 1hr 15 mins to go. Believe me, I’m glad Point Break is not a build-up to a surfing contest between the two lead characters but I’m surprised the final lessons are given in the sky instead of on the water.
Anthony Kiedis shoots himself in the foot
Yep. The lead dude from The Red Hot Chili Peppers has a bit part as one of the goons who literally shoots himself in the foot… literally.
The car chase scene
I’m a sucker for a car chase with “regular” cars going all out. The “Ex-Presidents” in their red 1984 Lincoln Town Car cheesing it from Busey in his 1984 Buick Century was a thing of beauty. Watching these tanks with rear wheel drive that are designed to take Grandma to Church on Sunday, drift through intersections while the four barrels let out big roars had me thankful I wasn’t wearing loose pants.
Which leads us too The foot chase scene
It takes us down narrow corridors, through people’s homes; dogs are tossed and kicked. It is good times.
The total of both chase scenes in this film is an example of Kathryn Bigelow’s competent directing and the ability to add something sweet to a bit of a clunker script (She co-wrote it, I know). Even though the scene’s climax was immortalized in a semi mocking way in Simon Pegg’s Hot Fuzz the journey to that moment is an excellent piece of action cinema.
Busey is a slam dunk
It is not hard for an average actor to look good when standing beside Keanu Reeves who is delivering his lines like a piece a wood. But that should NOT take anything away from how good Busey is in this film. It is one of those “once in a lifetime roles” like Mickey Rourke’s lead in The Wrestler. Busey’s real life wackiness fits the bizarre personality of the person who he is portraying. It all works and Busey hits a home run. “2 meatball sandwiches! Hey… two!”
I didn’t love Point Break but I didn’t hate it either. I’m not sure if I would watch it from beginning to end again since catching some of my favorite clips on YouTube would probably be enough to scratch that itch.
I can see why some really like it though. As unrealistic as the dialogue can be, it is fun and quotable. Most of it is delivered by Busey, but John C. McGinley, (who plays the salty, reminiscent of his Scrubs character, FBI Director Ben Harp) knocks a few out of the park as well.
Like when he tells Utah, “You’re a real blue flame special, aren’t you, son? Young, dumb and full of come, I know.” It is not a realistic line of dialogue nor does it make a whole lot of sense. But like Point Break itself, it has a certain flow to it and it is fun to believe it does.
What the hell is a “blue flame special” anyway?
Thanks for reading.