Point Break (1991) 4K UHD Review: “27 banks in three years – anything to catch the perfect wave!”

In Point Break (dir. Kathryn Bigelow), Johnny Utah, an FBI hotshot (Keanu Reeves), joins an FBI schlub (Gary Busey) to take down a gang of surfers (led by Patrick Swayze, as Bodhi) who sky dive and, wearing masks that make them look like former U.S. presidents, rob banks. As Utah infiltrates the gang, he shacks up with a local honey they know (Lori Petty) and gets in deep. So deep, he almost seems infatuated with the gang’s ways and general outlook.

But Point Break is not a deep movie. No ma’am.

Point Break is one of the most memorable, adrenaline-filled action movies of its era—thanks to Bigelow and her crackerjack team of filmmakers. (Extra kudos go to Mark Isham’s moody score and Donald Peterman’s work as DP.)

Make no mistake. The movie doesn’t blow my mind. But Bigelow pulls it off with visual panache. Every action sequence works. There’s a car chase, a foot chase, a couple of fantastic sky-dives, and a welter of surfing footage. The robberies are exciting and tense.

At its worst (best?), the dialogue plays as self-consciously over-baked. If you come to Point Break, though, with low expectations, you might see it (like another Swayze good-bad classic, Road House) as a savory B-movie for boys (or man-boys). Characters can be vessels for jock talk, some of it waxing philosophical—

  • Bohdi: Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true.

—some of it lame-brained, but hilarious, cop shoptalk—

  • Ben Harp: You’re a real blue flame special, aren’t you, son? Young, dumb and full of come, I know. What I don’t know is how you got assigned here. Guess we must just have ourselves an asshole shortage, huh?
  • Johnny Utah: [quietly] Not so far.

I enjoy this aspect. It’s one reason fans of this genre love the movie. Even when absurd, the dialogue is delivered in a straight-faced manner. You almost believe the filmmakers enjoyed this parodic strain as much as I do.

Point Break could have been a lot darker. It could have been even more homoerotic. In particular, I wish Utah’s time undercover had posed far less of a moral dilemma for him.

Ah, but that’s not the movie we get.

Point Break is a slick, fast-paced action film that aims to entertain us. It’s gnarly.

The Shout! Studios Collector’s Edition of Point Break includes a 4K UHD disc and a Blu-ray. Both are based on a new 4K scan of the interpositive in Dolby Vision. This marks the movie’s first appearance in 4K. It looks and sounds amazing. Special features (just on the Blu-ray) include more scenes, four featurettes, and the theatrical trailer.

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Jack Cormack

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