Point Break in a way is a precursor to “The Fast and the Furious”. Both films share nearly identical plot lines; a character whose life philosophy for his life’s passion intrigues the protagonist, undercover cop gets into a specific extreme sport, protagonist has a time limit to capture his culprit, and if continue to mention more similarities would ruin the film for newcomers. Yet, “Point Break” ends out being the better film because it understands it story and characters that in the grand scheme of nonsensical material works in sync with how everything structure on a technical level and in story telling.
Point Break is about an FBI agent going undercover to catch a gang of bank robbers who may be surfers. Build around a preposterous assumption by an experienced FBI agent once it gets started logic never enter. It knows this poking fun of itself with flimsy gathering of evidence like examining the tan line of a bank robber behind in surveillance footage. Once it addresses the sillier side of its evidence to catch it criminals it goes back to business. For as silly as the plot gets it characters are more rooted in the world. Specifically our protagonist, Johnny Utah, who despite being the hero is inept in his job. He’s the different kind of action hero who screw ups contribute in worsening his current dilemma and avoids using an organ called the brain. Utah doesn’t sound so much like a hero as he does a fumbling idiot. However, with the structure of the plot his action goes along with the philosophy the criminal shares. Much in line with the ebb and flow of a wave; tension mounts slowly building to a climax each time, which is slightly resolved in an abrupt crash until the next pique. Formulaic as the script make itself be goes hand in hand with the views presented by its characters. Always searching for the next adrenaline rush before it crashes and burn. Both the hero and antiheroes share their flaws resulting in consequences on both side. Characterization is plentiful giving more meaning to the action, though never sympathetic given the tonal switch it characters can cause. Although, most of Utah development are later turned into plot devices and what occurs to him follows some predictable guidelines for any film that follows an undercover agent. These characters are supported by some great dialogue that manage to get a laugh because of nothing the sort would be things the action genre would expect to produce.
Keanu Reeves persona perfectly matches the protagonist he portrays. Reeves never vocalizes a range of emotions when speaking, but his demeanor to ease from being a care free surfer to full on hard boiled FBI agent is believable. No matter how much Reeves gets beaten in an action scene whenever his character is allowed a finer moment he sells it. Patrick Swayze is eccentric as an antihero. He’s loose whenever he speaks philosophical on surfing the waves as his life meaning. Reading such lines and given them as much heart no matter how silly it might sound to non surfers. When needed too Swayze can turn a complete one-eighty that borderline on adrenaline addict whose needs more. Lori Petty plays the token love interest. She’s not given much range in the kind of scenes she gets either being loose or life threatening dramatic. Her performance is good inspite of the lack of range she’s offer. Gary Busey wisecracks hilariously throughout playing off greatly of from an equally funny John C. McGinley. Kathryn Bigelow with vigorous direction knows how to modulate when it comes to action. While not impressive or big in scale are entirely filled with stunt work and pyrotechnics-driven, as we see skydiving, surfing, crazy stunts, and one good on-foot chases through many location. The action presented remain clear building tension flowing like a wave. Cinematographer Donald Peterman creates camerawork to draw us into its mindset. Shots of the surfing and surfers are close-ups, creating an immediate and intimate bond for the audience are captured with graceful camera movement.
Point Break is preposterous, and that is exactly why it works. On the surface what seen is as a dumb action movie is given more thought by smart filmmakers. The heroes and antiheroes are fleshed out given more meaning to their actions applying more weight to their consequences. Acting wise there’s not memorable performance from Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze, but both fit the parts with their onscreen persona being natural for the characters they portray. It understands the philosophy of it characters life passion incorporating it into the structure of how made it work in perfect zen.