Point Break is a brand of action movie that you'd be hard pressed to find in multiplexes these days — unabashedly goofy, testosterone-charged (quite ironic considering it was directed by a woman, Kathryn Bigelow, whose other films — Blue Steel, Strange Days — are also strangely masculine, now that I think about it) and filled with stupefyingly lame yet incredibly cool one-liners that make this film simultaneously a relic of the early Nineties and a somehow still hip film with its share of enthusiastic fans. What makes the film an increasingly rare bird is its guilelessness, its refusal to give in to irony and glib pop culture references; action flicks these days load up on irony as a matter of course, draining much of the brainless fun right out of the experience. Would the Zen adrenaline junkie Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) be nearly as semi-iconic if he were overly aware he was in a flashy Hollywood shoot-'em-up? I submit that he would not.
Building from a premise that sounds like "Law & Order: California Lifeguard Unit," Point Break doesn't waste any time establishing its themes: crime and surfing. "Quarterback jock" turned strangely zonked FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) is introduced firing endless rounds in the rain in a cross-cut sequence featuring exquisitely photographed shots of surfers plowing through crystalline waves — before the opening credits have finished drifting across the screen, you've learned pretty much everything you need to know about the plot. The next two hours and change are spent following Johnny as he and batshit partner Angelo Pappas (a delightfully unhinged Gary Busey) track and infiltrate a gang of thieves who hold up banks disguised as former Presidents Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter. Peppering this thin, preposterous narrative with thrilling sequences of death-defying athleticism (skydiving, night surfing), Bigelow, working from a screenplay by W. Peter Iliff, keeps things moving quickly, leaving you to sort out just how improbable it all is after the fun is over.
What sells the film — aside from its impeccably choreographed and captured action sequences (yes, even the ones that don't involve surfboards) — is the utter commitment of its cast: from Keanu Reeves to Gary Busey to Patrick Swayze to Lori Petty and beyond, everyone who appears in front of the camera is totally game, up for whatever logic-defying curveballs Point Break hurls their way. Swayze, in particular, swipes the film out from under tabla rasa Reeves and the scenery-gnawing Busey, with his stoner bonhomie and light-as-helium wisdom (a bonfire pep talk about railing against the system and liberating those who commute to work in "metal coffins" is a particular highlight). Bodhi is the nutty core of Bigelow's film, the reason it remains such an (admittedly violent and macho) guilty pleasure.
No one is going to take Point Break off the shelf expecting entertainment of the highest caliber and conversely, it takes skill to make brainless trash such as this as classy and compelling as it ultimately becomes — a movie that revels in coincidence and gaps in logic large enough to drive a tank through, it's still nice to have Bodhi and the boys back on a DVD worth spinning, at least once. Surf's up! The DVD
Having already once graced the DVD format in a relatively bare-bones 2001 release, this "Pure Adrenaline Edition" relies upon a cursorily cleaned 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer — I'm not saying it's identical, but it's certainly similar to the previous edition. Mostly clean, with a few instances of grain and dirt, Point Break looks pretty sharp, except for minor softness throughout, generally in more lowly-lit scenes. You'd think if Fox were trotting this film back out for consumption that they'd at least spring for a cleaner transfer. The Audio:
Again, as with the 2001 edition, the Dolby Digital 4.0 audio has been retained, with a DTS 4.1 track being dropped and a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track added. The 5.1 track is lively without falling prey to "remix syndrome" and sounding unnaturally beefed up. Gunshots, crashing waves and macho declarations are all heard clearly, without distortion or drop-out. A Spanish mono track and a French Dolby 3.0 track are here, as optional English and Spanish subtitles. The Extras:
The 2001 edition featured only a trailer, so the bonus material here could arguably be worth discarding the earlier disc just on principle: eight deleted scenes, annonyingly only playable separately, are included, as are a quartet of featurettes: the 23-minute retrospective "It's Make or Break," the surfing-centric six minute, seven second "Ride The Wave," the stunt-centric six minute "Adrenaline Junkies" and the eight minute, 32 second "On Location: Malibu." A trio of Point Break theatrical trailers and a still gallery complete the disc. Final Thoughts:
No one is going to take Point Break off the shelf expecting entertainment of the highest caliber and conversely, it takes skill to make brainless trash such as this as classy and compelling as it ultimately becomes. Point Break is a brand of action movie that you'd be hard pressed to find in multiplexes these days — unabashedly goofy, testosterone-charged and filled with stupefyingly lame yet incredibly cool one-liners that make this film simultaneously a relic of the early Nineties and a somehow still hip film with its share of enthusiastic fans. Recommended.