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POINT BREAK
Total Adrenaline Edition

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Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey, Lori Petty
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, Dolby Surround 4.0, French Dolby Surround, Spanish Dolby Mono
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.35:1
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Features: See Review
Length: 122 Minutes
Release Date: October 3, 2006

“ADIOS AMIGO!”

Film ***1/2

Point Break is an ingenious thrill machine of the unexpected. It is also a prime example of good, clean summer movie escapism complete with an over-the-top plot, outrageous action scenes, and lots of sharp attitude to back it all up. It was released to theaters at a point when the art of surfing was somewhat of a phenomenon.

Nowadays, unless you live in southern California, you really don’t hear much about it anymore, or maybe that’s just me. At any rate, the movie at hand does nothing less than entertain the viewer, which is its primary intention. It marked a superb collaboration, bringing together co-producer James Cameron and director Kathryn Bigelow, who would later team up for the monumental sci-fi cult classic, Strange Days.

The movie’s hero is rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves in one of his very few good movies before Speed or The Matrix came about. Utah’s first assignment, which pairs him with veteran agent Pappas (Gary Busey), is to crack down a team of bank robbers. These criminals are dubbed the ex-presidents, donning masks of Regan, Carter, Nixon, and LBJ. They have hit nearly 30 banks in three years, all taking place during the summer time. Pappas has a theory with the ex-presidents, which is that they might be nothing less than surfers stealing money to get to the ultimate surfing destination.

So Johnny must go undercover as a convincing surfer in order to get some leads on the suspects. In doing so, he comes across the feisty Tyler (Lori Petty), who he then goes to for help on surfing, which requires a bit of lying of course because of the undercover work. After a few lessons, Utah meets Bohdi (Patrick Swayze), who’s considered sort of a god in the surfing community.

Bohdi is a spiritual and charismatic individual, who believes that surfing is actually a state of mind more than anything else. Quickly, Utah becomes close friends with Bohdi and his gang, and even begins to fall for Tyler. When he and Pappas set their sights on a rival surfer gang that appears more vicious, that bust falls flat, and then Johnny realizes, as much as he doesn’t want to stomach it, that Bohdi’s gang might be the bank robbers.

At this point, Point Break really catches fire and becomes a thrill a minute, what’s-gonna-happen-next type of thriller. The action scenes are thrilling indeed, including a prolonged foot chase between Johnny and the mysterious gang leader, and a jaw-dropping number where Johnny jumps out of a plane, without a parachute, to pursue the movie’s villain, as if he James Bond or something. It all leads to an unexpectedly involving climax, which takes place on a stormy beach in Australia.

Having never been a huge fan of Patrick Swayze, this is perhaps my favorite movie of his, and he is really good as the spiritual Bohdi. He is a likeable character, but by the end of the movie, he sort of turns out to be a very original character as well. And Reeves is well suited for the role of Utah, which is a perfect physically demanding role that would perfectly prep the actor up for the more physically demanding role he would take on in Speed three years later. Director Bigelow really makes her mark as a serious action movie director with this film with the execution of the action sequences and a strong build up along the way.

Point Break doesn’t require much of you. It just wants you to be thrilled and pumped up by its energy, and it certainly does a winning job of that.

Video ***1/2

By far the best format I’ve seen the movie in yet! Fox’s anamorphic re-issuing looks quite terrific, and the crisp and clear picture succeeds in capturing the thrill of the sea and air with the help of the top notch camera work. A tad bit of grain in brief points, but nothing distracting in the least.

Audio ****

I can definitely state that the new 5.1 Dolby mix on this release is indeed the strongest I’ve heard the film in. Right from the opening scene, the energy and impact of the sound is never-ending, whether it be from music on the soundtrack to dialogue delivery to background noise to the explosive action sequences. Indeed, a sound mix that really does get the adrenaline going.

Features ***

Fox has done a satisfying job of upgrading the list of extras for this new Pure Adrenaline Edition. Featured on the disc are four brand new featurettes; “It’s Make or Break”, “Ride The Wave”, “Adrenaline Junkies” and “On Location: Malibu”, each of which contains a good deal of depth on the making of the film. Also included are Deleted Scenes, a Photo Gallery and 3 Theatrical Trailers.

Summary:

Point Break remains the fast paced, adrenaline-fueled piece of thrill-a-minute piece of action cinema that it was upon first glance 15 years ago. This new Pure Adrenaline Edition release from Fox is a definite upgrade from the first release, and serves as a darn good reason to rediscover this early 90s thrill ride.

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