Whatever your poison, be it campy comedy, action, the stars, the surfing--you name it, "Point Break" has it all in mass quantity.
Point Break (1991, Blu-ray)
Directors: Katheryn Bigelow
Producers: James Cameron
Writers: Rick King (Story) and W. Peter Iliff (Story and Screenplay)
Features: * Featurettes * Deleted Material * Stills * Trailers
Patrick Swayze ... Bodhi
Keanu Reeves ... FBI Special Agent John 'Johnny' Utah
Gary Busey ... FBI Agent Angelo Pappas
Lori Petty ... Tyler Ann Endicott
John C. McGinley ... FBI Agent Ben Harp
James LeGros ... Roach
Point Break Blu-ray Review
Just a few short months ago, my friend Scott was telling me about a live stage show version of "Point Break" aptly titled "Point Break Live." The show is basically a truncated version of the film with live participation from the audience. Most of the show is available on YouTube for those wishing to see it.
Who would have thought that more then ten years later, "Point Break" would still be so strongly ingrained in our culture (a sequel is even being prepped for release in 2009). The basic plot was ripped off in the 2001 carjacking flick, "The Fast and the Furious." In 2006, the action spoof "Hot Fuzz" also riffed on the film, stealing the now-famous scene where F.B.I. agent Johnny Utah angrily fires his gun into the air after discovering that his surfing mentor (Swayze) is, in fact, the lead member of the bank robbing gang, the Ex-Presidents. Even more surprising is how, more than fifteen years later, somehow "Point Break" actually manages to hold up.
Sure, some elements have grown antiquated, but thanks to Kathryn Bigelowís stunningly energetic direction, the film actually manages to stand the test of time. This is partly due to the filmís sheer charisma and admiration for a culture thatís barely changed since the 1960s. But the story, at its core, is still just as adrenaline-packed as it was back in 1991. Adrenaline junkies still exist today and they still jam to the same tunes, wear the same clothes and have the same lame hairdos. Back in 1991, it would have been impossible to predict that "Point Break" would remain such a fine honorarium to a culture thatís still around, but somehow thatís exactly what "Point Break" did.
The film is cheesy, thanks in large part to the stagy over-the-top action set pieces paired with equally over-the-top performances from Gary Busey, Patrick Swayze and, most notably, Keanu Reeves. The dialogue doesnít help things much either. Reeves is given some truly lame dialogue to sputter and his performance falters from time-to-time directly because of this. Reeves is a very reserved actor, whose subtle gestures have always been mistaken for bad acting or overacting, but heís really only bad when heís given a bad character. Johnny Utah is such a character. Heís blank and boring, muttering minimal dialogue throughout the film that serves only to advance the plot.
Beyond those minor complaints, "Point Break" remains a taut, well designed action vehicle loaded with some genuinely inspired ideas, great chases and some of the most spectacular stunt work ever put on film. The mid-air flying sequences are absolutely amazing--well staged and full of contextually tense moments. The character dynamic between Bodhi (Swazye) and Utah (Reeves) is genuinely engaging and oddly real. The surfing sequences are also top notch and the chase sequence after the bank robbery between Utah and Bodhi is phenomenally staged.
"Point Break" is sure to make bad movie fanatics laugh while keeping action junkies at bay. It also appeals to the hordes of Keanu Reeves fans and fans seeking material from the filmís primary star, Patrick Swayze, who may not be with us much longer due to an ongoing, tragic struggle with pancreatic cancer. Thatís this filmís raw power--it appeals to so many cultures and fans while remaining true to the culture it portrays onscreen. "Point Break" is a classic early 90s action vehicle of epic proportions.
Film Report Card:
Entertainment Value: B+
Film Value: B-
20th Century Fox presents the film in 2.35:1 widescreen at 1080p/AVC spread across a dual-layer BD50 disc. Thankfully, Fox did not apply DNR to this presentation which is sure to please many hardcore Blu-ray fans while disappointing those looking for grainless films. This is one grainy presentation, but such a look is consistent with the film stock used in this era. The biggest problem that mars this transfer though is the constant image flickering thatís present during almost every single daytime sequence. I thought that the bulb on my projector was going bad and kept I pausing the film to check. It wasnít the bulb. Sadly, this ruins several sharp sequences.
Color is relatively well replicated and depth is fairly good considering the age of this print. The print itself wasnít well persevered though resulting in an occasionally soft print marred by dust and scratches on the print. One final thing I noted is that the print didnít quite look like it was properly cropped to 2.35:1. Itís possible this was shot on full frame Super35, but the crop didnít look right. If anyone knows if this crop is wrong, feel free to EMAIL ME and let me know. Still, this is probably the best "Point Break" will ever look, which is saying something.
Fox presents the film in DTS HD 5.1 Master Lossless Audio. At least the audio was better preserved than the video. This 5.1 track rocks your surrounds with thunderous, enveloping effects. Sadly though, not all of the effects feel very organic with the picture nor are they are well mixed as one would like. Volume control is a major issue. I found myself turning my system up during dialogue sequences and down during noisy action set pieces. Still, this is a wonderfully enveloping mix for a film thatís coming close to twenty years of age.
Fox has presented fans with a few special features, but sadly this set bypasses the cult phenomenon thatís been going on in California. There are no featurettes or videos about the live stage shows nor is their commentary from fans. Hell, Fox doesnít even include their usual text based trivia track. What we do get is certainly fine, but not as pronounced as some fans would like.
ē Featurettes: ĎItís Make or Break,í ĎRiding the Wave,í ĎAdrenaline Junkiesí and ĎOn Location: Malibuí -- Mostly retrospective interviews with various cast and crew shot for the 2006 DVD and spliced into smaller featurettes. There are some interesting bits of trivia here, but I wish there was so much more.
ē Deleted Material -- Eight scenes total, these deleted bits run roughly ten minutes and help flesh out characters and extend certain currently existing scenes. A nice addition, but most of the material is rightfully cut as usual.
ē Stills Gallery and Trailers -- You know the drill with these.
"Point Break" is presented in an Elite blue case and design is in keeping with Foxís most recent titles. Still, Iíd like to see a little less advertising.
Whatever your poison, be it campy comedy, action, the stars, the surfing--you name it, "Point Break" has it all in mass quantity. The Blu-ray presentation presents the same material from the 2006 DVD, plus a slightly better transfer and superior audio making this a must-own title for hardcore fans. Bring on "Point Break 2," allegedly coming in 2009!
Blu-ray Report Card:
HD Content: N/A
Recommendation: Fans should own this title!
On Blu-ray disc: July 1, 2008.
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----R. L. Shaffer