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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 7/10/01

Point Break
Enhanced Widescreen - 1991 (2001) - 20th Century Fox

review by Greg Suarez of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVsEncoded with DTS & Dolby Digital 5.1 Digital Surround

Point Break Film Rating: C

Disc Ratings (Video/Extras): B-/D+

Audio Ratings (DD/DTS): A-/A-

Specs and Features

122 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided, RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at 58:31, at the start of chapter 10), Amaray keep case packaging, EPK "making-of" featurette, 2 theatrical trailers, "Fox Flix" trailers (for Chain Reaction, Big Trouble In Little China and Unlawful Entry), film-themed menu screens, scene access (20 chapters), languages: English (DD 4.1 & 2.0 and DTS 4.1) and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: English and Spanish, Closed Captioned

Agent Ben Harp: "Over the last two weeks, you two have produced exactly SQUAT! During which time, the Ex-Presidents have robbed two more banks! Now, for Christ's sake, do either of you two have anything even remotely interesting to tell me?!"

Special Agent Johnny Utah: "I caught my first tube this morning, sir."

Point Break is your typical cop action flick, set in the early '90s So Cal surfing scene. And what better bit of casting than Keanu Reeves to play said cop? Ted Theodore Logan… I mean Keanu Reeves... plays FBI Special Agent Johnny Utah (a name reserved for action heroes and video game characters). Utah must go undercover in a band of natty-haired, washboard-ab'ed, blonde surfer dudes, led by the Zen-like Bodhi (Patrick Swayze). You see... it seems that a group of thieves, dubbing themselves the Ex-Presidents, have knocked over almost thirty banks within three years, and the FBI has had very little luck in cracking the case. Utah's veteran partner (Gary Busey) has reason to believe that the Ex-Presidents are actually surfers. So undercover the young Utah goes in order to catch some waves, play some beach football, have some sex and (if there's any time left) try to catch the thieves. And as Utah becomes friends with Bodhi and his cadre, our hero begins to discover that the key to catching the Ex-Presidents might be closer than he ever imagined.

For plot and execution, Point Break pretty much follows the same pattern as almost every other cop action film from the late '80s and early '90s (right down to the hotheaded boss and competitive, smart-ass co-workers who are always razzing the main characters for screwing up). What really hurt this film for me were the paper-thin characters. In action flicks, paper-thin characters are excusable if the action is fast and explosive. Unfortunately, things really don't pick up here until approximately the 90-minute mark. But as slow and drawn out (dare I say, boring?) as the first two-thirds of this film can be, the last third is pretty exciting. And then there's DP Donald Peterman's gorgeous cinematography - the high point of this film in my eyes. The lighting and camerawork in the beach scenes are truly breathtaking - very stylistically executed. And during the action sequences, Peterman's work is fluid and electrifying, always drawing the viewer closer to the excitement.

Sporting an anamorphic widescreen picture (framed at 2.35:1), the DVD edition of Point Break does have some nice qualities. The image is artifact free and the master is very clean for a decade-old film. During close up shots, the picture shows off a decent amount of fine detail. However, the overall image appears a little dated, with muted colors and a slight haziness that obscures detail somewhat during wide-angle shots.

On the audio side of business, this DVD rocks! Boasting dual Dolby Digital 4.1 and DTS 4.1 tracks, Point Break is an exciting and powerful home theater audio experience. Surround channels are used aggressively to place the viewer directly into the action, and during surfing segments, you can hear the crashing of the waves all around you. Dialog and subtle audible cues are well represented on this disc, and low frequency effects are powerful and plentiful. The DTS 4.1 track is labeled as a 5.1 track in the audio options menu, but the surround channels share the same mono signal encoded into both channels. The DTS option is VERY slightly superior to the Dolby track, as it sports a tighter low end and subtle ambiance improvements. However, these differences are incredibly minor, and if you can only experience the Dolby Digital track, you won't be let down.

Extra features on this DVD are limited to a 4-minute, EPK-style featurette that is less than worthless. Half of it contains clips from the film, and the other half features members of the cast explaining their characters. You also get director Kathryn Bigelow glowing about how wonderful Point Break is. I got a very good chuckle when Bigelow described the character of Bodhi as "truly enlightened", and called the film "transcendent". Ahem… Two theatrical trailers for Point Break have also been included on this disc, as well as trailers for other Fox films available on DVD (Chain Reaction, Big Trouble in Little China and Unlawful Entry).

Point Break isn't a great film, but it isn't terrible, either. If the characters had been more interesting or original, the lagging initial two-thirds of the film would've been easier to swallow. Still, most film buffs will want to experience the exciting cinematography. And if you like surfing, I'm sure this film will appeal to you on some level. Fox did an admirable job with the DVD, bestowing it with a mostly clean transfer and riveting Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks. If you're a fan of the film, this DVD is recommended. Just don't Sex Wax the disc... that can't be good for your player.

Greg Suarez
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