(Movie review taken from the original 2001 DVD review.)
I've enjoyed both of director Kathryn Bigelow's major features - both this 1991 action thriller and the bigger budget (although unfortunately, largely ignored) 1995 sci-fi thriller "Strange Days", which featured a great performance from Ralph Fiennes. "Point Break" stars Keanu Reeves as Johnny Utah, a former football player who has joined the ranks of the FBI and has been assigned to Los Angeles.
They've been attempting to catch a group of bank robbers who have escaped capture called the "Ex-Presidents". Utah and partner Pappas (Gary Busey) find evidence that suggest that the group could be surfers on their spare time, and Utah is sent undercover to try and catch the group. A local surfer, nicely played by Lori Petty, is able to teach him surfing well enough so that he can find acceptance in the community where the criminals may be hiding. He finally runs into one of them - Bodhi(Patrick Swayze) who, along with his band of surfers, robs banks during the off-season to support their surfing as they seek out the perfect wave.
There's something about Bigelow's visual style for both of these films that really does a great deal to engage the audience. Both pictures have found the director paired up with excellent cinematographers (Matthew Leonetti in "Strange Days" and Donald Peterman in "Point Break") who really are not afraid to run right into the middle of the action. This is part of the reason that the film is as effective as it is, as most of the picture is rather noticably cliched and predictable. It also is a bit long at a few minutes short of 2 hours; some editing could have made this a tigher, even more exciting picture.
The performances aren't bad, but they aren't fantastic, either. Busey does a fine job playing the kind of character he always plays. Reeves plays a lite version of the character that he played in "Speed", as well (thankfully, his acting has gotten better in the years since). Swayze is the one who gets into the character the most as the zen-following Bodhi. Lori Petty also turns in a nice supporting performance.
Overall, it's a film that probably wouldn't have worked as well had it not been directed by Bigelow, who has shown herself over the years to be an excellent and talented director of action pictures, able to use visuals to get the viewer into the middle of the moment.
VIDEO: "Point Break" is presented by Fox in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) on Blu-Ray. The results aren't going to surprise anyone positively or negatively, although the new presentation does see some mild improvements over the prior DVD releases. Sharpness and detail are somewhat improved over the prior DVD - while the film still never looks crystal clear, it at least looks (at least usually) crisp and well-defined, with only some occasional softer moments.
Considering the age of the movie, the print looked awfully good throughout the show, with only some occasional light specks and marks. Some light grain is encountered at times, but is an intentional element of the cinematography. No edge enhancement, artifacting or other additional concerns were seen. The film's naturalistic color palette appeared well-saturated and never smeary or otherwise problematic. Colors actually did appear a touch warmer here than on prior DVD releases. Overall, this was an above-average presentation, but it didn't manage to exceed expectations.
SOUND: The film is presented in DTS-HD Lossless Master Audio 5.1. Surrounds do kick in at times to provide some mild ambience and the occasional sound effect, but a good portion of the film's audio is front-heavy. Audio quality was fine, with crisp effects and clear dialogue.
EXTRAS: It's unfortunate that there's no commentary offered here, but we do get a main featurette, "It's Make or Break (23 minutes), which gathers most of the cast and crew for interviews (most new interviews, but there are some archive interviews included here, as well, in the case of Reeves and Bigelow) chatting about the making of the feature. We learn more about casting, the details behind certain scenes, working with the cast and more. Still, it's really too bad that Reeves and Bigelow obviously did not participate.
There's also a series of shorter featurettes, including: "Ride the Wave" (surfing in the film and the spirituality of surfing), "Adrenaline Junkies" (adrenaline rushes and the action of the movie) and finally, "On Location: Malibu" (a tour of some of the locations that were used in "Point Break".) Finally, we also get 8 deleted scenes, 3 trailers and a stills gallery.
Final Thoughts: "Point Break" is a crisp, lively thiller with good performances from Swayze, Reeves and the supporting cast. The Blu-Ray edition is essentially a Blu-Ray version of the "Pure Adrenaline" DVD edition, with the same extras. Audio/video quality does get a mild upgrade, but really not enough to earn this an upgrade recommendation for those who already own the "Pure Adrenaline" DVD edition. Those new to the movie should seek out the cheaply priced "Pure Adrenaline" DVD edition, which can be found online for about half the price of the Blu-Ray edition.
The Film B+