Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Point Break (1991)

(Image from IMDB)

Point Break (1991)

I'll state right up front that the only reason I watched this movie (and the only reason I watched Bad Boys II) is because of the way it was spoofed in the brilliant Hot Fuzz. It seems that 'Fuzz' is actually much better than both of the two movies it directly pays tribute to. Still, while it pales next to Edgar Wright's brilliant film, 'Point Break' is a fairly decent action movie.

Keanu Reeves plays Johnny Utah (awesome name), a young hotshot FBI Agent just transferred to the bank robbery division. He's partnered with Agent Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey), and together they wind up investigating a bank robber gang called 'The Dead Presidents' that the FBI has been unable to get even a single lead on. Pappas has a theory that the robbers are actually a group of surfers, and so Utah goes undercover to hang out with surfer gangs to try and suss out the criminals despite the protestations of their boss Agent Harp (John C. McGinley). It is here that he meets Tyler (Lori Petty), a woman who teaches him to surf and whom he falls in love with. Through Tyler he meets the charismatic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), a master surfer who embraces the spiritual aspects of surfing and who sees in Utah a kindred spirit. As Utah and Pappas's (between these two and Bodhi, my 'weird names in the blog' quota has now been met) investigation leads them to a suspicious gang, an 'unexpected' twist throws things for a loop.

As bizarre as that plot sounds, it makes for a fairly entertaining and original film. The twist isn't all that surprising really; even though I knew about it before seeing the film, the way the story plays out it had to work out that way or the narrative focus of the first half of the film would have been somewhat redundant (in a mainstream film, at any rate). The script is quite cheesy and full of not so memorable lines and attempts to appear deep and spiritual on the part of the surfers, but I can forgive that because it's still fun and is never truly bad (plus some of that spiritual stuff ends up looking like hypocrisy in the story itself). There's a lot of diversity in this film in terms of action - surf boarding, sky diving, a thrilling foot chase in and around houses, bank robberies, shootouts - and director Kathryn Bigelow handles them all quite skillfully. And yes, I did bust a gut when the 'firing your gun in the air and yelling AAAAAAAH' scene came up! *BANG* *BANG* *BANG* AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

Reeves is miscast in this role and is completely unconvincing, and some of his line deliveries are hilarious - "I AM AN F--B--I--AGENT!". He just seems too similar to his Bill and Ted persona playing at an FBI agent, and not like the persona that worked so well in Speed. Patrick Swayze is great as the enigmatic Bodhi, and it's easy to see how the Utah character gets caught up in his aura. As supporting cast, Lori Petty makes for an appealing love interest and Gary Busey is fairly goofy and effective as Utah's veteran partner (though it's kinda weird seeing him as a good guy). John C. McGinley - aka Dr. Cox from Scrubs - is a hoot as Utah's boss, and I wish there had been more of him. He gets some great snide, verbose lines, and anyone who's seen Scrubs knows how great McGinley is at unleashing that kind of material!

'Point Break' is a fairly enjoyable two hours with some very good action sequences. It's not brilliant, but it's not mediocre either. Good, but not great. There's extra entertainment value for fans of 'Hot Fuzz'.

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