Point Break

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Details At A Glance

Category Action Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1 - 1.78:1 non-16x9, Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Rating Other Trailer(s) No
Year Released 1991 Commentary Tracks No
Running Time 117:10 minutes Other Extras None
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (57:00)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 2,4 Director Kathryn Bigalow

Fox Home Video
Starring Patrick Swayze
Keanu Reeves
Gary Busey
Lori Petty
RRP $34.95 Music Sharon Boyle
Mark Isham

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 2.0
16x9 Enhancement
Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 2.0 , 192 Kb/s)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
Macrovision Yes Smoking Yes
Subtitles Czech
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

Plot Synopsis

   Point Break is a strange movie. The premise, on paper, looks fairly plain and uninteresting. A group of surfers rob banks during off season, and spend the money travelling and surfing, living off their spoils, the leader of the pack being the long-haired Patrick Swayze. They live for the wave, and represent a freedom of life most of us would wish for but cannot have. Two cops (Keanu Reeves and Gary Busey) must work out who is robbing the banks; they do, and one of them (Keanu Reeves) becomes involved in the surfer crowd as a sort of undercover operator, getting close so he can nab them from within, and put them away. Sounds reasonably dull to me.

    The reality of the movie is totally different. Charismatic as ever, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) is brilliant as the free-thinker, tired of the ways of society and those "lost souls driving their tin coffins". He carries the movie's acting, taking the movie to a higher plane, and elevating the typically wooden performance of Keanu Reeves into something tolerable. The main star of the movie, though, is the ocean. The whole point, the whole reason that Bodhi lives is for the ocean; in particular, the 50-year storm which promises the greatest waves ever at Bell's Beach, Australia. He leads his band of surfing thugs on precise, clean bank raids, financing their free lifestyle and having no guilt or fear. Johnny Utah, a 25 year old clean-cut FBI agent (described by his boss as "young, dumb and full of xxx"), has what it takes to shoe-horn his way into this close-knit group, and learns to respect Bodhi's beliefs and passion, whilst at the same time being charged with "bringing him in." He has a hard time with the contradictions he is feeling, but does what is right in the end. His acting is a little stiff, but he can certainly pull off the surfer type without difficulty, and sometimes sounds a little "Bill & Ted"!

    The cinematography by Donald Peterman is stunning, and many of the surf shots are breathtaking. As I say later in the transfer section, I could have stripped and walked straight into the TV at times. The bottom line is that this is an excellently executed movie and I found it very entertaining and thought provoking.

Transfer Quality


    This is an excellent transfer and is quite simply reference quality, being indistinguishable from film for the most part, which is something I appreciate. I would like to see this on a huge projection system, because I feel it would hold up very well indeed.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and it is 16x9 enhanced.

    The image is at all times sharp and clear, though not exceptionally sharp. Shadow detail is quite variable, sometimes being excellent, other times wanting, but never a problem. Some scenes exhibit a touch of film grain, whilst others are silky smooth; on the whole the transfer is free from low-level noise. I could have literally walked into the picture many times, especially scenes with the beach and surf, the latter captured to stunning effect and reproduced wonderfully. Also standout was the sky-diving scenes, which literally had my jaw open. The detail and clarity was stunning, and I experienced a thrill just watching it (however, nothing could make me actually DO it!). This movie has some really good cinematography, and full use is made of the 2.35:1 frame. Thankfully, there was absolutely no use of edge-enhancement.

    Colours were slightly muted, and at times biased depending on the scene. Skin tones were reproduced excellently, as was the sand and surf. There was no chroma noise or bleeding. I was very satisfied with the colour palette.

    Fox have got their authoring spot-on when it comes to the MPEG encoding - this is another movie that looks completely natural, with no trace of artefacting. I truly felt like I was watching film with this one, with almost no film-to-video artefacts of any kind. For most of the movie there was very little in the way of film artefacts, with a few scenes exhibiting the old vertical hair line down the entire frame towards the end of the movie, but I am certainly not going to mark down the rating for those 50 or so frames.

    This disc is RSDL formatted, with the layer change occurring at 57:00 during chapter 10. I totally missed this change on the first viewing, because it is so quick as to be invisible, and my player is from the old school. I would imagine a new player would hide it completely!


    There is just the one English Dolby Digital 2.0 surround soundtrack on this disc, which is true to the original theatrical release and is certainly nothing to sneer at.

    Dialogue was generally clear, with only the occasional distortion.

    There was also the occasional sync-issue, this being due to sloppy looping given that it occurred during scenes when it would be clearly hard to capture all the actors' voices from the original location recording.

    The soundtrack was subtle, and very nice indeed, basically underpinning the on-screen action and helping stir the emotions at critical times. The surf was recorded to perfection, and I could close my eyes and be there. I absolutely love the sound of the ocean, and have spent time at the beach just listening to the waves; this soundtrack takes you straight there and plonks you on the beach!. The soundstage was wide for effects, but fairly narrow for the score which was slightly disappointing. The sound quality, whilst not up to contemporary soundtracks, was nonetheless full and quite acceptable.

    The surround channels were used lightly most of the time, and are typical for a fairly modern matrix mix. The surfing scenes are, again, a standout with the surrounds kicking in and exhibiting great energy and being very enveloping at those times.

    The subwoofer was key to the realism of the waves and was used excellently in truly putting you right in the tubes with the surfers, with the force of the surf hitting you in the chest. "Gnarly, dude!" would probably sum it up nicely. The sub was also used to flesh out the score at times, and was integrated subtly and effectively for those purposes.



    Plain and functional, it is at least 16x9 enhanced.

Theatrical Trailer (2:34)

    Presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, non 16x9 enhanced and in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono.

R4 vs R1

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:

   The original theatrical release of this movie was in 2.0 surround, and indeed the R1 version's rear surround channels are in fact monophonic. Some may prefer the Dolby Digital 4.1 discrete encoding or the 5.1 dts soundtrack with mono surrounds over the R4 version. Whilst there is nothing absolutely compelling about the R1, your preference may sway that way.


    A highly entertaining movie with some great cinematography and a compelling performance from Patrick Swayze.

    The video is magnificent and is reference quality. I wish my screen was bigger!

    The audio is true to the theatrical release and is very full and enveloping. The surf never sounded so good.

    The extras consist of the theatrical trailer. More really needs to be done on this front.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Paul Cordingley
9th February, 2000.
Review Equipment
DVD Panasonic A350A S-Video output
Display Pioneer SD-T43W1 125cm Widescreen 16x9
Audio Decoder Internal Dolby Digital 5.1 (DVD Player)
Amplification Sony STRDE-525 5x100 watts Dolby Pro-Logic / 5.1 Ready Receiver; 4 x Optimus 10-band Graphic EQ
Speakers Centre: Sony SS-CN35 100 watt; Main & Surrounds: Pioneer CS-R390-K 150-watt floorstanders; Subwoofer: Optimus 100-watt passive