Judge David Johnson is looking for the ultimate rush. He thinks it's somewhere in central Nebraska.
The greatest surfer bank heist movie ever made splashes down onto Blu-ray. Does this bad boy shoot the curl or soak its britches?*
*(unverified surfer vernacular not professing to be accurate)
Facts of the Case
For fresh-out-of-the-academy FBI stud Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves, The Matrix), his ticket to Bureau glory lies in the Los Angeles special bank robbery branch. There, the tireless crime-fighters have been futilely pursuing a gang of robbers dubbed "The Ex-Presidents;" a crew that wears rubber masks of former U.S. Presidents and has never been caught in any of its 30 robbery attempts.
Springing from a crazy theory concocted by his partner (Gary Busey), Johnny pursues the angle that the robbers are actually surfers, raiding the banks to fund their global surfing circuit. Going undercover, Johnny ingratiates himself with group's leader, a bodacious free spirit named Bodhi (Patrick Swayze, Dirty Dancing) who promptly fills Johnny's head with talk of adventure, living life to its fullest, and fighting the system. But things get personal when Bodhi discovers Johnny's true intentions and, well…I don't want to ruin anything for you, but the two eventually punch each other in the face…a lot.
Who doesn't love Point Break?! Answer: A lot of people I'm sure. But for me, this is an action classic, stuffed with iconic moments and featuring a young Keanu Reeves and a spry, bleached Patrick Swayze squaring off to see who can "out-dude" the other. And there, in the background, is Gary Busey at his manic best, turning in a wild-eyed performance that even competes with his Lethal Weapon insanity.
Now "action classic" doesn't necessarily mean fine filmmaking, and revisiting it on high-def reminded me that Point Break isn't really a great film; maybe not even a good one. There's a meaningless plot point involving the FBI raiding the house of some suspects in the surfer robbery case, even though it's abundantly clear to the audience that they're most definitely not the guilty party. And for all his verve and tenacity, Johnny Utah can objectively be characterized as a crappy FBI agent. He routinely risks his cover, mouths off to his superiors, fails to notice a robbery taking place behind him while he buys a meatball sandwich, shows up late to raids, consistently gets his ass kicked, compromises the investigation because of his ill-advised romantic relationship with the ex-girlfriend of the lead suspect, inexplicably participates in a bank robbery, contributes to the death of an off-duty policeman and a portly security guard, and breaks his knee jumping off a ledge. Oh, and the final third of the film is pretty much incoherent.
But who cares? There's a guy willing to jump out of an airplane without a parachute! All is forgiven!
As much as I get a kick out of the fun escapism this one has to offer, that ending still bothers me. SPOILER! If anyone had a lifetime of torturous solitary confinement coming, it was Bodhi and his wavy blond hair, his Oprah-lite psycho babble, and that dead cop he has on his conscience. Drowned by a super-wave? He got off easy.
Point Break certainly has the potential to shine on Blu-ray, what with the waves and beaches and full-color Richard Nixon Halloween mask. The transfer (2.35:1) is an upgrade over the standard DVD release, but not by much. As far as Blu catalog titles go, the picture quality is about the norm: soft, but noticeably clearer than its non-HD counterparts. Still, it's hard not to be disappointed by a reissue that is only marginally better-looking than previous iterations; noticeable, but marginal. The 5.1 DTS Master track is a champ, however, robust and enveloping with plenty of boom delivered in the LFE. The crashing waves in the film's climax should displace some poorly mounted wall art.
Extras include four separate featurettes—"It's Make or Break," "Ride the Wave," "Adrenaline Junkies," and "On Location: Malibu"—which are brand new productions featuring cast and crew reminiscing about their experiences on set. Poor quality deleted scenes, a still gallery, and trailers round out the bunch.
Point Break is as fun as ever, but I'm not sure if the modest uptick in picture quality is worth the investment.
Not guilty, dude.
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