‘Point Break’ or — Two Hours of Getting Kicked in The Face?

I was rather concerned about revisiting ‘Point Break’ (1991) last night because no other filmmaker intimidates me more than Katherine Bigelow. I think it’s because her films are dripping with so much menacing testosterone that I feel they’re going to shoot me in the head, whether I’m Osama Bin Laden or not. And then call me an asshole. And then probably pee on me. Either way, her work always makes me nervous.

‘Point Break’ is about Johnny Utah… aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh, and Jesus Christ this movie is stupid already. Look, you all know the story — Patrick Swayze dresses up as Jimmy Carter and robs banks when he’s not surfing and then Keanu Reeves has to start surfing so he can stop Patrick Swayze dressing up as Jimmy Carter and robbing banks because Keanu Reeves is an FBI agent, and not a very good one at that, who has been assigned to stop Patrick Swayze dressing up as Jimmy Carter and robbing banks.

Patrick Swayze teaches Keanu Reeves the meaning of standing for something, whatever that something is, even if Swayze doesn’t actually know what that something is but whatever that something actually is it’s something Patrick Swayze figured it out using basic dog psychology (??!!).

Keanu Reeves might be an FBI agent but he’s also a rule breaker; an individualist who wants peak experiences although you get the feeling he’s not too bright (he has the look of someone who attempted to read Ayn Rand but gave up on page 5). Swayze is all surfer dude blonde, golden locks but he might also be the philosophising intellectual here (he looks as though he might’ve made it as far as page 6).

Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves then fall in love by swearing at each other and engaging in a series of excessively aggressive macho outdoor activities turning ‘Point Break’ into an episode of ‘Go With Noakes’ if John Noakes and Shep were both on PCP.

Keanu Reeves then gets sad that Patrick Swayze is still dressing up as Jimmy Carter and robbing banks so fires his gun into the air because this is the closet Bigelow gets to portraying men expressing their emotions whilst Swayze demonstrates his humanity by… threatening to kill a woman?!

By the climax Swayze has decided that all he wants is to experience the biggest thrill possible, the most ecstatic sensation available to humankind, a moment of transcendent glory and that’s to kill himself so the end credits can finally roll and everyone’s misery can stop. I know I was certainly weeping in blessed relief when it finished.

‘Point Break’ is a highly manufactured, extremely shallow, highly brittle and incredibly painful movie to digest; the process was like eating a glass hamburger and I’m still picking shards of it out of my gums the following morning. Like almost every Katherine Bigelow movie I watch ‘Point Break’ is so horrible, so nasty that if it was a person and I’d invited it round to my home for dinner then after twenty, no — TEN minutes I’d be asking it to leave. And not politely either because this film’s personality is completely abhorrent.

It’s all just so ugly! Everyone is shouting, everything is for maximum impact, every edit deliberately jagged and pointy. I was sitting there trying to imagine what this film’s script would look like and concluding it must’ve been nothing more than 126 pages of exclamation marks, and not very well written ones at that.

Not that ‘Point Break’ isn’t impressive in its own deeply risible way. Say what you want about Bigelow but she’s a technically gifted filmmaker and way more talented than her ex, James Cameron, and it terms of visual belligerence she blows Michael Bay out the water. That spiky aesthetic equally applies to the sound design and score because ‘Point Break’ has a soundtrack I can only describe as “intentionally spiteful”. Sonically it’s nasty as hell; I’d hate to hear what a Katherine Bigelow relaxation tape would sound like.

When ‘Point Break’ had finished I was left sitting there going “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!” for several minutes because the experience of watching it was like having a drunken college jock stab my eyeballs and ears with pins for two hours whilst simultaneously shouting at me that he’d just fucked my girlfriend… and I’m single!

A movie for masochists or anybody who enjoys pain.




Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.

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Colin Edwards

Colin Edwards

Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.

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