Point Break is the epitome of a 90’s action movie without one key element: the action. At a time when bigger was better, in muscles, explosions, attractive women and bold, high-concepts plot, Point Break feels like it reins all of that in. It doesn’t have the huge action set-pieces. The closest we get is a sky-dive with assumed threat. It lacks the huge, muscle-bound heroes, instead offering Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze and the high-concept plot is nothing more than an undercover cop getting “in too deep.”
That isn’t to say that Point Break is ever boring, just generic and average. The characters feel too forced, from Keanu Reeves as the action every-man, his “wild” partner played by Gary Busey and his “shouty” superior (a pre-Scrubs appearance by John C McGinley). The nature of the movie means we don’t necessarily get a decent villain either. It doesn’t feel like a spoiler to reveal who the bank robber Reeves is chasing down actually is but when that moment is revealed, it feels more like a damp-squib than a huge shock-moment.
The moment would probably be a bigger gut-punch if the relationship had some development. Reeves and Swayze share a few scenes, he saves Reeves from a fight and then they seem to sit around together a lot. There aren’t any real bonds between the two which justify the huge feeling of betrayal or inability to do his job which Reeves feels when he discovers his villain.
This is undercut further by the fact that Swayze’s character becomes so different once the revelation is made. The character goes from a spiritual, daredevil who is questing for the perfect wave to a heartless, cold and vindictive villain who cares little for others and acts irrationally.
With characters as poorly written as this, along with awful dialogue too, you can forgive a 90’s action movie for going heavy on the explosions, car chases and set-pieces instead. Point Break lacks these too. A movie focused more on surfing than bank robbing was always going to be a tough sell and as impressive as the surfing looks, eventually it loses it’s strength of awe and wonder.
This leaves a more procedural cop vs robbers movie but without the thrill and tension. There is a great shoot-out, a fantastic on-foot chase which will leave even the audience breathless and the skydiving does raise the heartbeat but there is no huge, epic action moment and subsequently the finale feels damp and underwhelming, especially when the final choices of Reeves’ character makes little sense.
You can also add insult to injury because the plot of Point Break has been done better at least twice. The Fast and the Furious is essentially the same movie but with a more exciting setting, better action and more interesting characters. You could also argue the same for the Point Break remake, which is of course the same plot but expands both the central relationship and the different extreme set-pieces at the core of the movie.
Overall, Point Break is a classic 90’s movie with none of the classic 90’s tropes. It doesn’t feel big enough, bold enough or brash enough to stand alongside it’s 90’s counterparts. It has limited characters, poor action and a standard, limp plot which feels uninspired. Watch The Fast and the Furious or the Point Break remake instead.
Rating – 2.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)