90’s bollocks and bravado doesn’t come any cheesier than ‘Point Break’.
Coming before the big time for Keanu Reeves and Director Kathryn Bigelow and also starring Patrick Swayze, it’s “100% pure adrenaline”
Nineteen years later Bigelow triumphed at the 2010 Oscars over ex Hubby and here producer James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ with ‘The Hurt Locker’, cementing her place as a director of supreme ability, but previously she was earning her stripes on this 1991 vehicle following lesser known entries.
Johnny Utah (Reeves) is a rookie FBI agent who takes his first assignment with veteran Pappas, the brilliant Gary Busey, to bring down ‘The Ex-presidents’, a gang of mask wearing armed robbers disguised as Reagan, Carter, Nixon and Johnson.
Pappas’ earth shattering theory is that the ex-presidents are surfers, evidenced by tan lines, some revealing CCTV footage and chemical analysis of hair samples, sand and board wax!
Johnny begins his undercover mission to infiltrate the tight surfing/bank robbing crew, it’s a ridiculous premise, but in the spirit of early 90’s action excess and in the delivery of fantastic adrenaline fuelled action, ‘Point Break’ succeeds.
As Johnny goes deeper uncover and finds a love of all things surfing, befriending new guru and mentor Bodhi (Swayze); as well as falling for wild chick Tyler (Lori Petty), loyalties become tangled leading to some brilliant action packed dilemmas.
Director Bigelow knows how to do action, with ‘Point Break’ having some dazzling set pieces, with not just one, but two exhilarating sky dive chases and a fantastic foot chase through LA’s suburbia.
Reeves is cool as the slick rookie Utah, who evolves into a true surf boy, not a million miles away from his other earlier “bodacious dude” -‘Ted Theodore Logan’. Reeve’s gets to cut his action teeth for later superior efforts, but here is very much in transition from dumb dude to genuine leading action star.
Swayze is even cooler as the spiritual surf Guru Bodhi, as hard as nails but loathing violence, ruthless in his pursuit to fund his adrenaline addiction and fight the system to remain truly free, waiting for imminent surfing utopia. Swayze steals it in his prime, which now saddens.
And Gary Busey, the infamous off screen mad man, wisecracks hilariously throughout as Reeves’ Veteran partner.
Poor scripting and sometimes cringe worthy dialogue and acting is rescued by brilliant action and genuine hilarity from Busey and John C. McGinley’s (always entertaining) FBI boss Ben Harp; ballbreaker and asshole – “now for Christ’s sake, does either one of you have anything even remotely interesting to tell me?” – “I caught my first tube today… Sir”
Now reviewed without the rose tinted outlook of a hero worshipping sixteen year old, fond memories regress to reveal an action movie that only just holds up, buoyed by memorable action set pieces and the iconic masquerading ‘Presidential’ thieves.
Coming just before an age when action movies shifted up gear ‘Point Break’ IS still cool, with a pre ‘superstar’ Reeves latterly and paradoxically the man to take action to the next level in the superior ‘Speed’ and the game changing ‘Matrix’.