In my last post I explained how I was going to rewatch the Fast and Furious franchise and that I’m starting it all off by watching Point Break, as I feel it is not just a the inspiration for The Fast and the Furious but its spiritual forefather.

When The Fast and The Furious first came out, loads of people accused it of just being ‘Point Break with cars’. Firstly, I’m cool with that. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’d much rather have something that copied the blueprint of Point Break and changed it slightly than actually remaking Point Break itself. Secondly, as mentioned above, it’s not just a blatant copy. I feel it references Point Break respectfully a few times, rather than just ripping it off. And thirdly, there are actually quite a few differences. 

I absolutely love Point Break, so I thoroughly enjoyed watching it again. I made a detailed note about the main beats in the movie to see how similar they were to the Fast and the Furious. It’s certainly not a carbon copy. But first let’s look at the similarities.

SIMILARITIES

  • The plot – Yes, it is very similar…
    • The main protagonist is in the FBI (or LAPD but working with the FBI)
    • He goes undercover to infiltrate a gang that is stealing stuff
    • The gang is involved in some extreme sport or activity
    • He initially suspects another rival gang as being the perpetrators
    • He gets very close to the gang he has infiltrated, falls in love with one of the female acquaintances
    • He eventually realises that they are the baddies he has been looking for
    • He ends up letting the gang leader go at the end of the movie
    • He effectively leaves the FBI / LAPD in the final shot
  • Los Angeles – both films are set in L.A.
  • Fights – Bodhi breaks up a fight between Utah and Warchild’s posse. Dom breaks up a fight between Brian and Vince.
  • Corona – They drink Corona at least once in Point Break. I think a few times. It first appears after 11mins. In F&F it is mentioned by name and drunk several times. Dom’s love of Corona is even referenced by Kurt Russell in a later movie. And there was never even any deal made with Corona. It was just the director’s choice
  • Tuna sandwiches – When Pappas orders two meatball subs Johnny Utah orders himself a tuna on wheat. Brian O’Conner goes back to Torreto’s each day and always asks how the tuna is and orders tuna on white (without the crust)
  • Neptune’s Net – This restaurant near Malibu features in both movies. In Point Break it’s where Johnny meets Tyler, and in The Fast and the Furious it’s where Brian and Dom go for shrimp. I actually went to this place on my honeymoon, just because it was recommended as a cool place to go in the area, and I had no idea that it was in these films! We even saw people surfing across the road. Shame. If I’d known I would have got my wife to pose for stupid photo recreations with me. Obviously I would have been the bald Vin Diesel and she would have been the beautiful Paul Walker.
  • One job too many – Both crews to one job too many at the end. Bodhi goes to the vault and screws up his last job, and Dom insists they do one last truck robbery, even though Jesse has gone, despite his whole crew advising against it
  • Opening shots – The movies open with cool shots of someone doing the activity in question, be it surfing or street racing
  • Closing shot – This must be a homage. In Point Break we see Keanu Reeves walk wistfully towards the camera after he says “He’s not coming back” and then throws his FBI badge into the sea. Paul Walker does the same walk to camera as the final shot in F&F after letting Dom drive off in his car
  • UPDATERain police – I’ve just watched the Turbo-Charged Prelude short film and the cops in that wear the exact same rain capes and cap covers that the Australian police do at the end of Point Break. I reckon that’s a homage too!

Some of the above are pretty much copied plot points, but some, like the beer, the tuna, the restaurant, some of the shots etc feel more like homages. Now let’s look at some of the more significant differences.

DIFFERENCES

  • We find out that Johnny Utah is an FBI agent in the first couple of minutes. But we only find out that Brian O’Connor is a cop about 30mins in when he gets fake arrested by his colleagues
  • Johnny Utah is shown to be a star agent getting 100% in his training session. Brian O’Connor on the other hand seems to spin out badly after driving in a straight line and then yells ‘Shit!’ while hitting the steering wheel
  • Johnny Utah’s cover is blown when Tyler finds his ID in his bloody wallet (the fool). Brian openly tells Mia he’s a cop when he’s trying to find out why Dom is leaving Race Wars
  • Johnny Utah has a partner. Brian O’Connor doesn’t.
  • I would say that Dom takes the news about Brian’s real job a lot better than Bodhi takes it when he finds out about Johnny’s job
  • Obviously there are lots more little differences but those ones are the main ones that stand out to me

So there it is. The Fast and The Furious obviously takes a huge steer from Point Break but it’s not absolutely beat for beat the same. But some of the connections are so direct that it must be a homage in some ways. This exercise was just an excuse for me to watch Point Break again.

Anyway, both great films. I would say Point Break is the better movie but The Fast and The Furious started something special. Speaking of which, we will take a detailed look at that movie in my next post very soon.