Point Break (1991) vs. The Fast and the Furious (2001)
This week is the 30th anniversary of the action classic Point Break starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze.
I never bothered with the remake but let’s be honest it was already remade in 2001 and called The Fast and the Furious. So rather than just looking back at Point Break I decided to do a versus and see which is the better film.
Point Break (1991)
Plot: After a string of bizarre bank robberies in Southern California, with the crooks donning masks of various former presidents, a federal agent, Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), infiltrates the suspected gang. But this is no ordinary group of robbers. They’re surfers — led by the charismatic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) — who are addicted to the rush of thievery. But when Utah falls in love with a female surfer, Tyler (Lori Petty), who is close to the gang, it complicates his sense of duty.
I was 13 when Point Break came out back in 1991 and I remember watching it alongside Predator 2 which was released around the same time. To this day Point Break is one of my favourite movies and is up there with Speed as Keanu’s best action picture.
Bodhi is one of Patrick Swayze’s most iconic characters and the concept of an undercover cop who is beguiled by this criminal is a fun one but also provides some nice moments of tension.
Keanu Reeves plays FBI AGENT! Johnny Utah (awesome name) who goes undercover with some surfers to find out who the mysterious bank robbers known as the Ex-Presidents really are. Along the way Johnny meets and falls in love with Tyler (Lori Petty) which complicates matters as now he has something to lose if he is found out.
No good 90’s action movie was complete without Gary Busey and he has some great dialogue as Utah’s partner Pappas which we still quote today (Utah! Get me two!). He plays a good guy too and *spoiler alert* I hate that he gets killed off at the end.
The set pieces are still some of the best you’ll ever see with stunning aerial photography and beautiful surfing footage; there are of course, fights and shoot-outs too which is why it still holds up. Fender from Cyborg is the amazingly named Warchild (back off, seriously) and then we have Red Hot Chilli Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis as Tone.
John C. McGinley is at his best as Ben Harp who is one of the most shouty police captains in the business. SQUAT!!!!
The score from Mark Isham is perfect and I especially love the music in the opening credits but the score works well for every scene giving a genuine sense of wonder during the surfing sequences.
I wish Kathryn Bigelow directed more as she is one of the best action directors in the business.
Overall, after 30 years Point Break is still every bit as entertaining as it was back in 1991 with awesome characters, superlative action scenes and endlessly quotable dialogue.
The Fast and the Furious (2001)
Plot: Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) enjoys the adrenaline of street car racing and his fans treat him like a rock star. After a blazing encounter with the ruthless Johnny Tran, Dom decides to take Brian (Paul Walker), a newcomer to street racing, under his wing. Dom’s sister Mia sees something she likes in Brian, too. Trouble is, neither of them realize he’s an undercover cop, and Dominic and his rival Johnny Tran are both the prime suspects in a case involving dirty money and big-rig hijacking.
I’ll never forget sitting in the theatre and watching the first Fast & Furious movie and by the end realizing that the story was a near exact replica of Point Break with an undercover cop who gets too close to the people he’s meant to be investigating. This time rather than surfers it’s street racing (and stealing) which provides some adrenaline infused action scenes as well as equally memorable characters.
Who would have thought that after 20 years this franchise would still be going and making a killing at the box office? I haven’t seen the 9th entry and to be honest I’m not in a rush but Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) were well cast in their respective roles.
The late Walker was like Keanu Reeves in that he was believable as a surfer type and he brought a naivete to O’Conner which made him appealing. Diesel could be intimidating as Toretto who was a scarier character than Bodhi ever was.
Before the franchise got more ludicrous it was stripped down and to be honest I prefer it when it was just about street racing and heists as it made the characters more relatable.
Like Point Break The Fast and the Furious had a great cast that included Jordana Brewster, Ted Levine, Johnny Strong, Michelle Rodriguez and Rick Yune. It’s too bad Johnny Strong hasn’t come back for future entries as he’s an awesome action star in his own right.
Overall, The Fast and the Furious may be a little too similar to Point Break in terms of story but the car racing scenes and action still hold up and the fact that there are still sequels being released is a testament to how much the characters mean to audiences.
I’m going by which movie I go back to the most and personally there is no competition – Point Break all the way as it did it first with Utah and Bodhi two of my favourite movie characters of the 90’s, stunning aerial photography and almost too many great lines to quote but it is indeed 100% pure adrenaline.