Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Lori Petty, Gary Busey, John C. McGinley
Plot: A FBI agent (Reeves) goes undercover to catch a group of bank robbers in a surfing community.
Point Break has always been praised as one of the greatest cop movies of all time, but I have never truly understood what makes this film so great. Sure, it is a commendable action and is hardly a bad film, but I never considered this one a classic.
The concept is so simple I don’t really need this paragraph to summarise the story. Keanu Reeves is Johnny Utah, a cop on the trail of a bunch of bank robbers who use Ex-President masks to rob banks across the coastline of America. The FBI pick up on this coastline pattern and decide that the robbers must be a part of a travelling surfing community, who spend their free time chasing the next big wave. Utah, a young rookie, looks the part enough to blend in, so he gets sent in to try and figure out who is behind the whole operation. However, while he is there he befriends the robber, Bodhi. As he gets closer to him, in order to get his hand on some condemning evidence, he accidentally gets too wrapped up in the lives of these surfers and is unsure what side he falls down on. It is essentially Fast and Furious, but with surfboards. As silly as the premise sounds, it does mean that Reeves and Swayze get to take part in some great set-pieces. The sky-diving scene is one of the moments that partially justify the excitement about this movie.
My problem is that the key element that makes Point Break special isn’t there for me. The bond between Bodhi and Utah is celebrated as the crux of the film. We all remember the scene where Utah has the chase to shoot the villain and end the whole movie, but he cannot bring himself to make the shot, killing his friend. It should be a deep moment. However, I never felt the friendship between the two. They have a mutual respect for each other, but that is as far as I saw the relationship between the two going. I blame this mainly on Keanu Reeves. Reeves is always best, when the director understands his limited range as an actor. The Matrix plays on his blank emptiness. Speed makes a big joke out of his straight-faced way of going about things. Point Break tries to do this, by having Utah seem like a small step up from Keanu’s stint in Bill and Ted. He is essentially a dumb teenager being given a badge and asked to play cop. This is fine, I guess, but when Bigelow tries to make something out of the bond between hero and villain, it doesn’t work for me. Therefore, I feel there is a massive chunk of Point Break that means nothing to me and that is disappointing.
However, this film does have a massive strength and that is Patrick Swayze. This could be one of my favourite things he has done, because it shows him as more than a 80s chick flick hunk. He can do action and he can do it well. Bodhi can go from compelling and easy-going to a man on the edge of desperation. The end of the movie allows Swayze to scene-chew and that is when he is at his best, snarling and justifying his actions. Just because I didn’t relate to the love-hate bond the main character is meant to have with him, doesn’t mean I cannot appreciate him as a simple action movie baddie. The president masks is a stroke of genius that has featured in pop culture endlessly. While Point Break will never be a classic in my eyes, I do see it as a fine addition to my collection of stupid action movies. I rate this like I rate a Jean-Claude Van Damme. An understandingly terrible actor as the lead, some great action sequences, but predominantly forgettable.
Final Verdict: I like Point Break; I really do. However, it will never be one of the films I associate as one of the greatest cop films of the 90s.