Fox // 1991 // 117 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // June 11th, 2001
100% pure adrenaline!
I think that it's safe to say that Keanu Reeves is a contender for one of the top action stars working in movies today. Though he doesn't posses the charisma of Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis or Arnold Schwarzenegger, Reeves is still able to hold his own in such shoot-'em up fare as Chain Reaction, Speed, and the mega-blockbuster The Matrix. In 1991 Kathryn Bigelow directed the action adventure surfer film Point Break, a story about what happens when good surfers do bad things. Co-starring Patrick Swayze (Dirty Dancing, Ghost), Gary Busey (Surviving the Game), and Lori Petty (Tank Girl), Fox hangs ten with this DTS and enhanced widescreen disc!
Johnny Utah (Reeves) is new to the Los Angeles FBI. Young and cocky, he's hooked up with his new partner, Angelo Papas (Busey), a grizzled officer of 22 years. Together they attempt to crack a case that's been going on for three years: bank robbers who go by the name The Ex-Presidents. The Ex-Presidents are thieves who are in and out in 90 seconds, stealing only the cash from the drawers, and vanishing without a trace. They've been able to hit 27 banks without being caught.
Utah and Papas decide to attempt an undercover operation, as Papas has a theory that the robbers are actually surfers who do this during the summer, then leave for the rest of the year. Utah dons a wet suit and surfboard to blend in among the locals, meeting a new love interest (Petty), which ultimately leads to his introduction of Bodhi (Swayze), a mystical and all around weirdo. Bodhi is out to catch the perfect wave and leads a group of surfers who love to play football on the beach and party during the nights.
Utah soon gets caught up in this new world of exotic danger and unexpected delight until he realizes that he's closer to the Ex-Presidents than he thought. With the help of the FBI and some gnarly carnauba wax, Utah must crack this case wide open...and catch the perfect ten.
Aside of Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, Point Break may be the quintessential Keanu Reeves movie. He didn't quite fit the bill when he appeared in Bram Stoker's Dracula. And what were they thinking when they cast him in Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing? Point Break gives Reeves a place to show off his real persona: a flaky surfer. If anyone can play that part, it's our man Keanu.
Point Break is a very good movie. It's not great, but it's good. As action movies go, it has sufficient action scenes, though they boarder more of adventure than action. [Editor's Note: Boarder: bad pun or typo? You decide.] There's some nice photography in this film, and some of the most breathtaking skydiving scenes ever caught on film. Point Break may lack the fun and finesse as such films as Die Hard or Lethal Weapon, but for sheer interest this should please most viewers looking for mind numbing fun.
Reeves, of course, is completely in his element playing Johnny Utah, though I'm not sure I buy that this guy ever got into college with his "whoa!" attitude. It's always fun to see Gary Busey (now a regular on the Christian Trinity Broadcast Network), as he brings a certain charm and energy to every performance. It looks as if he just snorted a barrel of cocaine before each scene, and that's what gives him that extra special edge.
Patrick Swayze is just plain strange as surf guru Bodhi. It's as if Swayze was able to channel the inner spirit of the surfing gods for this role, though I have a sneaking suspicion that Swayze is a lot like this character in real life. I imagine that, for on camera interviews, Swayze is the type of guy who uses the phrases "It's something I needed to do for my soul" and "My inner spirit led me this role" a lot. Unlike most everyone I know, he looks as if women toss themselves at him as if they were throw rugs. He is my new hero.
Director Bigelow does a very ample job supplying some decent action and fun moments of pure giddiness. The whole idea of having ex-presidents rob a bank is funny, and the robbers are a lot of fun to watch (the best line in the film comes when one of the robber, sporting a Ronald Reagan mask, asks the patrons for a few moments of their time as "we've been screwing you for years, so a few more seconds shouldn't matter"). Though characterization is not a high priority, it really doesn't need to be with the way the script is constructed. It's usually one action scene after another, then on to some surfing and skydiving. This is basically eye candy, and what a tasty treat it is.
Point Break is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The image is very nice, with colors looking bright and consistent, and blacks being very solid. There were a few spots where I noticed some very light lines running down the frame, though this is probably due in part to the film and most likely not the transfer. Edge enhancement was kept to a minimal, and there was a small amount of grain that I noticed, especially during the night surfing scenes. Overall the transfer is good, though not great (hmm...sounds just like the movie).
Audio is presented in DTS (English), Dolby Digital 4.1 (English), and Dolby 2.0 Surround (English and French). The DTS track fares best, being very well mixed. Rear speakers were utilized on both sides, though the mix is not as impressive as some of Fox's other titles. Dialogue was clean and clear, with music and effects mixed well. The Dolby 4.1 track is also good, though tended to have a slightly narrower range than the DTS track. With all that in mind, you're going to get basically the same mix either way you go. English and Spanish subtitles are also included.
Extra features include two theatrical trailers for Point Break, one being anamorphic widescreen and the other being full frame. Also included are three extra trailers for Fox titles, including Big Trouble In Little China, Unlawful Entry, and another Reeves vehicle, Chain Reaction. All are presented in anamorphic widescreen.
As a bonus, there is also a featurette on the making of Point Break. Though this is just a very short promotional trailer for the film, it does feature some insightful interviews with director Kathryn Bigelow, Patrick Swayze, and Keanu Reeves. It's a quick watch, and was produced back in 1991.
Point Break will not sit well for those of you looking for intellectually stimulating entertainment on a Friday night. The story is basic (an undercover agent must blend in to find his man), and the characters are pretty one-dimensional. But who cares? It's all brainless fun, and for those of you who scowl at the idea of ex-president mask wearing surfer bank robbers, I say to hell with ya!
Point Break is a fun flick. It's got action, it's got romance, it's got Gary Busey. What more can you ask for from a film? The transfer is pretty good, the audio more than decent, and it's got Gary Busey. Am I making myself clear? If you haven't seen this movie, get to the rental shelves and check it out. If you have, this is worth the few bucks you'll put down for a purchase.
Now I'm off to buy myself some new Hawaiian shirts...
Free to go and spread its Buddha charm throughout your DVD player.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 4.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround (French)
Running Time: 117 Minutes
Release Year: 1991
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Theatrical Trailers