There are some movies that may not be the best around but they happen to come around at just the right time with the perfect cast. These films become cult classics and manage to attract a large, faithful following. Most of these films never did well with the critics and more than a few in this category of flicks did less than stellar in the box office. With the growing use of VCRs and now DVD players more and more people are rediscovering these little gems and adding them to their personal collections. One such film is ‘Point Break’. Originally released in 1991 the film has remained one of the most remembered flicks of the early nineties. It is supposed to be a straight action flick but like many cult classics the audiences respond to the intentional and unintentional humor to be found within it. This film did fairly well with the critics and did make some profits for the studio but it had stiff competition in the box office when it was originally released. Just a few months before it came to theaters ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day’ was released. While the sales for T2 began to fall off many of the action fans came to see ‘Point Break’. It has been around on cable movie stations for a long time now and had a DVD release in October of 2006. Now, this movie has been released in the new high definition Blu-ray format. No matter how you see it this one of the most entertaining movies around. It is great to see it in re-mastered high def video and HD DTD audio though.
On rare occasions a film manages to pull together a dream cast that will be remembered for years to come. This is one prime example. Keanu Reeves was just coming off the success of his ‘Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure’ cult classic and had gathered a bit of a fan base. This was his move into action flicks. Considering years later he would reinvent his image as a major action-adventure star in the Matrix moves the plan worked. It also began his image as the surfer dude and in real life introduced him to the sport. Patrick Swayze was one of the hottest leading men of the day. With back to back hits like ‘Ghost’, ‘Red Dawn’ and ‘Dirty Dancing’ he was sure to bring in viewers of both genders. Gary Busey was one of Hollywood’s go to guys for tough looking character actors. He was deliciously evil in the first ‘Lethal Weapons’ movies and just had that menacing stare down to an art form. Here he showed some of his range by playing an FBI agent. At the time of this film Lori Petty was known mostly for quirky roles on many television episodes. She was just the right touch to balance off all the testosterone in this flick. There was chemistry in this movie that lasts and is evident no matter how many times you watch the flick.
The story and screenplay for the movie was provided by W. Peter Iliff. He also went on to such films as ‘Varsity Blues’, ‘Under Suspicion’ and ‘Patriot Games’. His genus in this case was the juxtaposition of genres that no one would ever consider as being compatible. He had to be a great salesman to go into the offices of a film studio executive and tell them; ‘I have this story about surfers that rob banks in masks of ex-presidents and the undercover FBI agent who pretends to be a surfer to infiltrate the gang’. What really makes this movie work so well is the way the story flows. The FBI Agent, Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) at first tries to be very professional about his assignment. Soon he finds himself caught up in the free spirited life style of the surfer. This becomes the foundation for a friendship with the leader of the bank robbery gang, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze). Besides, how great is it to have characters named Johnny Utah and Bodhi? Utah learns that the motivation for the robberies is much more than just quick financial gain and a means to fund their free wheeling life style. They are rebelling against the materialistic society that is anathema to the freedom they live for. This added a little twist that took the story away from the run of the mill, catch the crooks flick. It added a touch of social commentary that was consistent with the new rejection of the materialistic eighties that started in the early nineties. This helped this film become the cult classic that it was and remains today. This plot device also permitted Iliff to do a lot more with the character of Bodhi. The surfer has always been seen as part mystic; communing with nature and risking his life to master the large waves. Bodhi was thereby elevated from the hackneyed criminal mastermind whose only motivation is greed. Doing this permitted the audience to readily identify with both the lawman and the criminal; not an easy thing to pull off but Iliff did it fantastically. There is a scene where Bodhi and Utah go skydiving together. Utah lets Bodhi pack his chute. This demonstrates the degree that Utah is attached and into Bodhi; a trust that transcends his job at the FBI. As you watch the movie you find yourself rooting for both sides of the law.
It may come as a surprise that such a male oriented action movie was directed by a woman. Kathryn Bigelow had just come off a female action flick with ‘Blue Steel’, staring Jamie Lee Curtis. It was a natural move for her to get into the more traditional male action movie. Perhaps it is because of her gender that this film was able to break the rules and get away with it. A male director might find it more difficult to include the transcendental aspects of the plot with the heart pounding action as seamlessly as it is done here. This film is so well paced that you should make sure you have all the snacks and drinks required at hand before your start up your player. You will not want to even pause during this movie; it really needs to be viewed without any interruptions.
This is the Blu-ray edition of the previously released ‘Point Break: Pure Adrenaline Edition’. The film never looked or sounded better. It is even above and beyond the way I remembered it in the theater. The video is fantastic. The 2.35:1 transfer has a couple of faults but is overall extremely well done. The new DTS HD audio is spectacular. It fills the room with a channel separation that is crisp and clear. There are a few extras included, the same one that were on the 2006 DVD release. This is one that has to be part of your collection.