In an era when action movies reigned supreme, Point Break smashed onto theater screens with then superstar Keanu Reeves in the lead alongside superstar Patrick Swayze. It was a strong team-up, that was only bolstered with a supporting cast consisting of Gary Busey, John C. McGinely and Lori Petty. The film prided itself on being made up of “pure adrenaline” and over time started growing a fan base simply for its incredible actions sequences and over-the-top antics. While modern day action flicks have turned up the volume on the action dial way past what Point Break pushes out, it’s hard to deny the charm that Point Break still has—a buddy cop film with plenty of guns firing and action to back it up.
When FBI Agent Johnny Utah (Reeves) is put on a case involving the bank robbing gang “The Ex-Presidents”, the trail is dry, with no idea what gang is behind the robberies. While hesitant at first, Utah’s senior partner, Pappas (Busey), eventually divulges to Utah his theory about the robbers: that they’re surfers. Going off of this hunch, Utah goes undercover as a wanna-be-surfer, who eventually gets deep into a group headed up by surfer Bodhi (Swayze). Despite being directed towards another group of surfers initially, Utah eventually learns that it’s Bodhi who is behind the bank robberies and he must decide whether to do is his job and take Bodhi down or to be faithful to his new friend.
I had no desire to see this film until Hot Fuzz mentioned it so many times and when the Blu-ray release was announced, I jumped at the chance to review it. While anything that came out of Hot Fuzz, aside from the film itself, could ever live up to the hype I gave it, I was still surprised by Point Break in how entertaining it was, even if the entertainment was stupid. I started to laugh when I read the description of bank-robbing-surfers and the movie plays the concept straight (after Utah jokes about it a little, anyway. At least the movie didn’t take that part entirely too seriously) once Utah gets deep into the gang. It’s a curious element to try to convince the audience of, but it eventually becomes less absurd and more believable.
For awhile, anyway. About halfway into the film I began to realize how ludicrous it was, but I still enjoyed it purely on a superficial level. There’s no way this film would win any awards (aside from an MTV Movie Award anyway, which Reeves won for “Most Desirable Male”…fantastic!) but it has that guilty pleasure quality about it up until the end of the film where it just starts to unravel at breakneck speed. Some elements just didn’t make a whole lot of sense; I get why Johnny let Brodhi go and surf the big wave, but what was the point in tossing his badge away? How did that help anyone?
It’s best not to think too much about the film in the end, I guess. The characters in the film are easily forgettable, but it is surprising how many actors are in this that are now either not working or simply not high on the radar. Except Busey, when he pulls some red carpet antics, but he’s always fun.
I realize I haven’t talked much about the film, but there’s only so much to go over here. It’s a generic action flick with plenty of action sequences, but none that really…push the envelope in any way. It’s all very run of the mill and aside from the moments from Hot Fuzz, there’s not much in here that I found to be all that exciting. Perhaps I had it ruined for me by Hot Fuzz or maybe it was the Mythbusters special where they debunked some myths about the film, but it just didn’t really do much for me in either the storytelling or action department. I’m sure those that grew up with the film will have a soft spot for it, but newcomers won’t find much here they haven’t seen done in other films at this point.
Overall this movies a strict Rental if you haven’t seen it already. It’s nothing that will blow your socks off, but there is some good interaction with Reaves and Swayze, so it’s not without its moments.
Fox brings the “Pure Adrenaline Edition” of Point Break, the DVD version of which hit back in 2006. In a surprising move Fox seems to have ported all of the extras from that release over, so this isn’t’ a strict bare bones release on Blu-ray, which is slightly surprising if you’ve been following Fox’s catalog releases on this hi-def format. Point Break arrives in a standard Blu-ray “Elite” case with inserts for other Fox titles as well as a piece of paper telling you to keep your player up to date. Menus for the film are simple and easy to navigate, with nice pop-up motions.
The AVC encoded transfer for this film has a bit of varying quality, like due to the films age more than anything. At times there’s a great definition on the picture, especially during the surfing sequences, but at times when close-ups are on the screen there’s a softness to the picture and it really lacks any real feel of depth. Still, it’s a fine picture and certainly miles better than the DVD edition, I’m sure. The audio included here, DTS HD Master Lossless, is absolutely fantastic with great channel separation, especially during the wave riding areas of the film; there’s plenty of surround usage and unlike a lot of older action movies, the sound effects come through loud and clear without any of that horrible tinny sound.
All extras on this disc are presented in standard 480i/p definition, so don’t expect anything to look and sound wonderful. First up is a selection of deleted scenes (4:34), eight total, all of which have the worst video and audio quality imaginable. It’s nice they included them but…wow, this is like a VHS tape dunked under water for five hours. A series of featurettes that appear to have been newly recorded for the 2006 DVD release include “Ride the Wave” (6:08), “Adrenaline Junkies” (6:02) and “On Location: Malibu” (8:32). They’re your basic behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film and some of the actors take us back to the original sets and reminisce about what it was like to make the film. Three theatrical trailers and a still photo gallery are included as well.
That wraps up this release. It’s nothing amazing and the extras are rather weak, but at least Fox included all they had this time around. Recommended for the fans of the film who want to experience it in full, thudding 5.1 DTS HD MA glory, but a Rental for the curious.
Point Break is now available on DVD.