I have a confession to make: people have been telling me for years to watch Point Break, and I always blew them off. "Sure it's a great genre film," I thought, "but the genre is action and the film is about bank robbing surfers." Oh, Anne Marie. You did not give bank robbing surfers (who also skydive, by the way) enough credit. After having watched it (twice in a row), I confess that Point Break is quite possibly the perfect early 90s action flick: that brief bridge between the buffed up ridiculousness of 80s action movies, and the self-serious grittiness of later 90s action films.
It's a space and genre that Kathryn Bigelow and James Cameron (who were married in 1989 and divorced in 1991, the same year Point Break came out) occupied gleefully. Point Break was a collaboration between the two writer/directors (though because of Writer's Guild rules, neither's name appears in the writing credits). Together, they created a spectacle-driven, tightly-plotted action movie that manages to both poke fun at, and take advantage of, the hyper-macho tropes of the genre. Action was, after all, the genre of Stallone and Schwarzenegger's muscles, as well as Willis and Gibson's swagger. A lot has been written about movie masculinity and homoeroticism in action films, but I believe that what makes Point Break so good, beyond the adrenaline-high sports scenes and the tense action, is the way director Kathryn Bigelow examines (with a thankfully very thorough lens) the men in her film.
Point Break is a film that improbably can have its beef-cake and eat it too.