Despite being over a quarter of a century old, and despite some major plot issues, Point Break is a pretty kickass movie. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, in what I would consider to be her first great movie, Point Break blends action sports with crime thriller, with a dash of transcendentalism thrown in for good measure.
Though I’ve long considered Keanu Reeves to be a wooden actor, there’s no questioning his commitment to his action roles. Here in Point Break, we see Reeves engage in a variety of different types of stuntwork, and if his stilted, wooden dialogue occasionally feel out of place, on the whole the film is effective with his performance.
Facing off against Reeves is Patrick Swayze, the magnetic and charismatic Bodhi, a surfing bank robber who believes in his own machismo ways. Swayze, looking like the Chris Pratt of his era, is wholly believable in this role, a role that few if any Hollywood actors could successfully occupy.
Bigelow also gets great use out of her supporting players here. Gary Busey provides color and fiery energy as Reeves’ FBI agent partner, delivering his natural eccentricity in spades. John C. McGinley as the pair’s boss is certainly a kind of cliche, hard-nosed and asshole-ish, but if you’re going to have that cliche, McGinley is as good as anyone to portray it. And of course, I can’t ignore Tom Sizemore’s colorful bit appearance as a DEA agent whose sting operation gets blown; it’s a small role but Sizemore is great.
Of course, the real star of Point Break is Kathryn Bigelow herself; the direction here is just stellar. The look and feel of this film hasn’t aged a tiny bit (there was really no need for a remake); the handheld camerawork, the way that we actually feel like we’re in the water, or skydiving, with Bodhi and Johnny Utah, is unbelievable. Bigelow also manages to do something relatively unheard of in Hollywood in delivering a film that wholly embraces the female gaze; we see men, and masculinity, in this film, from an entirely female perspective, and if the way Lori Petty’s character is handled isn’t the most graceful as the film ends (it’s problematic), Bigelow’s sensibility makes up for it.
This is just a damn fine film.