Friday, December 8, 2023
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Point Break Review

Within seconds of Point Break finishing, my thoughts weren’t on how interesting a narrative it was, nor was my mind on the performances of Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey. No, my only thought was that I really don’t want to go surfing. That’s a sentiment I stand by, my fear of water and my inability to swim at a consistent enough manner to prevent drowning make the utilisation of a surfboard nigh on impossible. The closest I’ll ever come then, is this high-octane, action-packed piece directed by Kathryn Bigelow. That’s as close as I want to go to the sea in the current climate anyway, I doubt I’d be catching too many waves at Seaburn right now.

Following Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), a young FBI agent as he and partner Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey) hunt down the bank-robbing group, The Ex-Presidents. It’s a rather typical detective action flick with a whole host of expected moments. With a narrative riddled with cliché, Point Break doesn’t attempt at breaking any genre conventions, it welcomes them with open arms. It’s oddly refreshing to kick back with a film that never tries to be anything more than popcorn cinema, no moment throughout Point Break initiates a deluge of information that can be up for discussion. Quite a basic premise, followed up with reasonable dialogue and solid performances, but ultimately with nothing incredible to show.

There are moments of exceptional merit. Point Break features within it perhaps the best Busey performance to date. He manages to keep the more self-deprecating charms of his later performances subdued and restrained, in turn providing an incredible supporting performance to Reeves’ frankly puzzling leading role. He’s not too great an actor, and to compare this with his other performance from that year, Scott Favour in Gus van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho, the differences between the two are primitive. The differences between genre don’t matter, especially when in Van Sant’s Reeves and River Phoenix pairing, it does indeed seem like Reeves can turn in a remarkable performance. Some scenes within Point Break are underwhelming, or just poorly performed.

Thankfully, Patrick Swayze does indeed manage to make up for these lacking moments with Reeves. The two are such an incredible on-screen pairing, sharing more than a handful of tremendous and memorable moments. Bigelow’s direction brings the two together in a great effort, her direction brings about some exceptional storytelling and superb stunts, which keep the film from falling apart.

Nothing quite remarkable, but entirely watchable, Point Break is an acceptable entry into an oversaturated genre. It has its moments, a few great supporting performances from Gary Busey and John C. McGinley, and some remarkable action sequences that do, for the most part, manage to make for a very entertaining viewing. Sometimes you just need a bit of action, sprinkled in with performers that aren’t taking themselves all that seriously. Point Break is just that, a competent action flick with enough energy to make for a great, albeit somewhat forgettable time.

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Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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