|Point Break (1991)
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Gary Busey, Lori Petty, John C. McGinley
Director: Kathyrn Bigelow
Nearly a decade before “The Fast and the Furious” came racing into theaters, “Point Break” had already established itself as the action flick of choice for most adrenaline junkies around the world. The film had it all – surfing, sky diving, bank robberies, shootouts – and it wasn’t about to dismiss its cheesy, B-movie credentials either. The cast alone was a train wreck just waiting to happen. A relatively unknown Keanu Reeves had yet to prove himself as an A-list action star, ‘80s sex icon Patrick Swayze was slowly losing appeal (despite just coming off the über-popular “Ghost”), and Gary Busey had gone spiritually nuts after a motorcycle accident three years prior.
Add to that a horrible script, a silly romance between Reeves and punk rocker Lori Petty, and some verifiably tragic acting, and you have yourself a prospective direct-to-video schlockfest just waiting to collect dust on the bottom shelf at Blockbuster. Amazingly, the film became an instant cult classic – no doubt due to the wide array of jaw-dropping action sequences – and has gone on to inspire other films of the like, including the aforementioned import tuner flick, which even features the same generic storyline.
Reeves stars as Johnny Utah, an FBI rookie assigned to go undercover on the beaches of Malibu in order to track down a group of surfers moonlighting as bank robbers. Stylishly identified as the Ex-Presidents (for the rubber masks they wear depicting former U.S. leaders Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Lyndon B. Johnson), the group is led by thrill-seeker extraordinaire Bodhi (Swayze), whose own brazen attitude toward life attracts the young agent into the surfer’s close circle of friends. Despite what should be considered as obvious suspicions (call it bad police work), Utah isn’t hip to the idea that Bodhi’s crew could even be responsible for the series of well-planned heists, but when a botched stakeout uncovers the true identities of both men, the real chase begins.
Reeves isn’t at all believable as the hard-nosed FBI agent he’s supposed to be playing, but the guy’s a natural at the surfer dude shtick (having nailed it years before in “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure"), which, considering the premise of the story, is probably for the better. Swayze, on the other hand, attempts to tap into his criminal side, but only comes out looking like an unsatisfied adrenaline junkie who’s resorted to robbing banks for his daily thrills. It’s not exactly what you’d call inspired casting, but then again, the actors aren’t exactly the main attraction of the film.
And no, neither is the ocean – not always, anyways – but rather the elaborate set pieces that place the characters into extremely dangerous situations like surfing a killer storm or skydiving without a parachute. The action is fast and furious, and it doesn’t let up until the end credits roll. Unfortunately, it takes just over two hours for this to finally happen, and though the lackluster love angle between Reeves and Petty can certainly be blamed for slowing things down, the overall pacing of the story is much too slow for a movie about adrenaline. Still, who doesn’t enjoy the discovery of “Point Break” during a late night session of channel surfing? And isn’t that what makes a great cult classic?
Pure Adrenaline Edition DVD Review:
The single-disc special edition of “Point Break” may be better than the film’s initial barebones release, but it’s still seriously lacking. First and foremost is the quality of the film. Not only does the remastered video look rushed, but the included eight deleted scenes are completely unfinished. And of the four production featurettes that appear, only one is actually worth checking out (“It’s Make or Break"). The rest are pure filler, most likely in an attempt to make fans feel better about the studio double dip. Maybe if they did it right the first time, they wouldn’t have to release them over and over again.