Point Break (1991)
Kathryn Bigelow's fourth action film follows FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) as he goes undercover to infiltrate a cache of Southern California surfers suspected of robbing banks.
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Critic Reviews for Point Break
A hare-brained wild ride through big surf and bad vibes, Point Break acts like a huge, nasty wave, picking up viewers for a few major thrills but ultimately grinding them into the sand via overkill and absurdity.
There's enough high-octane, heart-racing excitement for a dozen movies.
A lot of the snap comes, surprisingly, from Mr. Reeves, who displays considerable discipline and range. He moves easily between the buttoned-down demeanor that suits a police procedural story and the loose-jointed manner of his comic roles.
Bigelow can't keep the film from drowning in a sea of surf-speak. But without her, Point Break would be no more than an excuse to ogle pretty boys in wet suits.
An exercise in stylish lunkheadedness. It's gorgeous but dumb as a post; watching it is a bit like shooting the tube and then getting cracked on the head by your board.
A nearly flawless marriage of the genre clichés of the classic '80s-model cop action picture with the elevated physicality of the '90s action films to come.
Did a dry California wind scramble the script as they moved into the third act? Did the tape recorder go on the blitz at the story conferences? Was there a fire in the editing room?
This is a very macho movie, and if the better film schools are looking for a contemporary film that very keenly exemplifies the marriage of sound and shoot, this is it.
Point Break is the best movie about cops, robbers, surfing and sky diving that you're likely to see.
Part beach bromance, part cult actioner, part search for meaning, it's an adrenalin-pumping thrill ride with so much macho testosterone that it's hard to imagine many male directors with bigger balls than Kathryn Bigelow.
The essence of movie remains unsullied, and with every viewing comes fresh details and a new appreciation for the film's fearlessness and originality in the midst of all of the cop formula.
Quaint in its depiction of an alternative lifestyle, yet still an above average, really quite vicious action thriller.
Pretty fair action in Swayze-Reeves starrer.
From our first glimpse of a surfer hovering through a cascading wave to the final sky-diving stunt, Kathryn Bigelow's fourth feature keeps offering us new thrills with unapologetic verve.
In some ways, Point Break is a guilty pleasure. But do keep in mind, like many drugs, repeated exposure may make you dumber.
In terms of Hollywood history, Bigelow's film is the perfect document of its time.
This visually delirious but intellectually underdeveloped thriller-actioner has some wonderfully executed chase scenes, but the characters defy dramatic logic even when played by Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves.
There's fun to be had, but there's also a few chapters worth skipping through.
While it can accurately be described as an action film, a heist movie, or even simply a thriller, Point Break is also the first "extreme sports" movie
Audience Reviews for Point Break
Before the Oscar winning heights of "The Hurt Locker", director Kathryn Bigelow cut her teeth on some intense and very impressive pieces of work; the brooding western/vampire movie "Near Dark", the stylish and futuristic "Strange Days" and "Point Break, the adrenaline filled action movie that proved a female director could compete with any male in the genre - hands down.
A gang of bank robbers known as The Ex-Presidents have been looting the banks of coastal Los Angeles towns. Not much is known about them as they commit their crimes while wearing the masks of presidents Reagan, Nixon, Carter and Johnson. What is suspected is that they are surfers, so the F.B.I send in special agents Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) and Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey) to uncover more information. Soon Utah is mixed up with surfing guru Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) and gets drawn into his adrenaline filled, spiritual lifestyle.
This film was a real favourite of mine growing up in the early 1990's and still ranks as one of the very best of cop/action movies. Quite simply, where it's strength lies is in some breathtakingly fantastic action scenes and shows that director Bigelow could always compete with the best of them when it comes to staging an action set-piece. The chase scene alone - through the streets by car before going on-foot through alleyways and houses and at one point, the involvement of a pit-bull - is one of the best action set-pieces committed to the screen and Bigelow should be immensely proud. This is also bookended by some excellent close-contact surfing scenes a spot of bank robbery and sublime skydiving. What more could you really want? It's a film filled with testosterone and macho posturing but it's unashamed in it's delivery. It even throws in some light spirituality and Bigelow juggles the elements with a high level of skill. One thing she doesn't have here is restraint but that's entirely the appeal. She's out to set pulses racing and have some fun and that's exactly what she does. If you give yourself over to it, you will too. Of course, the film's lack of restraint throws up some moments when it goes way over the top and stretches credulity to breaking point but it doesn't matter. It's entirely forgivable due to it's sheer indulgment and edge-of-your-seat entertainment.
So is the action genre just one for the boys? According to Bigelow, the answer is a resounding... No. She displays such skill and conviction that she crafts one of the most enjoyable action yarns available. It's tagline is "100% pure adrenaline..." and on the evidence, it's not far off it.
The action sequences and set pieces are undeniably impressive and by far better than the average blockbuster. But the cliched, cheesy beyond belief, poor acting and excruciatingly painful plot make 'Point Break' overall a dour affair.
The film tells the story of FBI agent, wait for it, Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves, who has to go undercover as a surfer to infiltrate a team of bank robbers. One of the surfers happens to be Patrick Swayze who offers up one of the most hair pulling performances of his career, whilst Utah is joined by his partner Gary Busey, by far the best thing in it.
The idea of a conflicted cop, forced to choose between his friends and 'true calling', and his job as an enforcer of the law has been done far too many times. Perhaps 'Point Break' was one too many. But more importantly than that, the plot, whilst full of memorable action scenes, does not really progress beyond the first half hour of the film where everything becomes apparent to any audience member.
Of course one thing, as I have said already, that does not fail to impress and even inspire is the action. Bigelow's well crafted and put together sequences, especially those of the chase through the houses between Reeves and ex-President Reagan, is exciting and even summons up a brief moment of real emotional connections with the characters.
However beyond that Utah, and Bodhi, Swayze, remain distant characters. It's no secret to my friends that Keanu Reeves is one of my least favourite actors, capable of only playing one character and one emotion. The same one he plays in 'Point Break'. However when he fails to even play that well you really do start to worry.
Overall whilst fun, 'Point Break' should have been a much better film than it is. It's a disappointing thrill, but little more than a poor blockbuster with great action scenes.
Somewhat of an action classic by today's standards, Point Break is an iconoclastic film that features two high billing actors at the peak of their fame, indulging us in a cat and mouse thriller. Keanu Reeves, a bankable star at the time, took a huge risk in taking on a role that requires serious stamina and delves deep into the psyche of an FBI agent chasing after a deranged set of bank robbers. The inter-personal relationships between the two of leads is the best aspect of the film, as Johnny Utah goes in undercover to unearth the plausible identity of a group of professional bank robbers. The caste of crazies are all surfers, led by the irreprehensible and handsome Patrick Swayze. He portrays a mellow leader simply waiting for the big kahuna wave to hit, financing it with his bank sprees. The film is famous for its action packed bank robbery scenes, and the relationship between Utah (Reeves) and Bodhi (Swayze). Other important elements to the story include a love story and partner relationship, and also show scenes of the inner workings of the FBI, plagued with scenes that include a still considered sane Gary Busey. The film works for many reasons; specifically that it contains a lot of magic realism, while also being grounded in police procedure, drug busts, which are shown occasionally between shots of babes on the beach. The gang he infiltrates are speed freaks, which lends to too many interesting shots of surfing, skydiving, and general thievery. Some iconic scenes include those of the bank robberies and essentially the chase scene near the end. It starts very strong and ends as poignantly and interesting as it began. It only suffers from its annoying seriousness in the face of its ridiculous premise. It's a film you need to wade into. A great action film, with an interesting portrayal from Reeves, though it's one clouded in vast cinematography and mystic philosophies. Overall a generally habit forming kind of film.More
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