31 Days of Action: Day 16 - Point Break

Everyone has movies where when you tell someone you haven’t seen them, you get an intense and baffled reaction. “What?! How have you not seen that movie?!” For me it’s far worse as everyone assumes I have seen every movie ever so when I bust out a blank spot in my viewing habits people seem extra confused. Point Break has repeatedly found itself as one of these movies so this marathon was the perfect opportunity to knock this one off the list and finally shut people up about it! I’ve seen it now world! Are you satisfied?!

I haven’t seen The Godfather II. There. Some new fodder for you to work with.

Point Break has a premise that sounds like it should be the dumbest movie in existence. Keanu Reeves essentially plays Ted as a cop only here he is called…I swear to god…Johnny Utah. He is partnered with Gary Busey to track down a group of bank robbers who are crazy efficient and also wear rubber masks of former US presidents, even talking in their respective voices during the robberies as well. They figure out that the robbers are also surfers so Johnny has to go undercover as a surfer in order to find them. He starts to become close with their zen leader Bodhi and gets all into adrenaline rushes and sky diving and shit. It’s all completely ridiculous and could probably only exist in the early 90’s, but god damn it really works well.

Reeves is definitely the weak link here, though come on are we really that surprised to find that out? Occasionally he gets all yelly and mad and almost comes off as a competent actor but for the most part he’s flat and stilted, which is odd because for the most part he really is just playing his Ted character but as a cop so it’s surprising how unconvincing he is here. It doesn’t help that he is surrounded by a cast of respected and charismatic actors that can only highlight how stiff Reeves is.

Fairing much better is Patrick Swayze as Bodhi. I’ve always been a Swayze fan, which makes it all the more baffling that this one went unwatched for so long. He struck a good balance between doing the more chick flicky Ghost and Dirty Dancing material, while also making thoroughly silly and yet completely entertaining action fare such as Road House and Red Dawn. Point Break fits perfectly into that second group of films. His character is so completely ridiculous, speaking in almost nothing but zen like inspirational sayings, and yet Swayze makes it work. That dude has boundless charisma man.

The surrounding cast is pretty impressive across the board as well. It’s always fun to see Gary Busey before he became a full out crazy person. You keep waiting for him to reveal himself as a bad guy since it is Gary Busey and all but it never happens and he remains loyal to Utah the entire movie. Lori Petty is here as the love interest to remind you that this was in fact made in the 1990’s. You also have John C. McGinley as the police captain who is really just playing a precursor to his Scrubs character but the man is so damn good at yelling at people that his limited screen time is always a joy.

I knew about the surfing stuff of course but I had completely forgotten about the sky diving aspect. The first sky diving scene may be the highlight of the movie. This is 1991, you couldn’t do a convincing CGI job to create a sky diving scene so this is instead real footage of actual sky diving that I’m pretty sure involves the actual cast members. It’s a really well done sequence in a movie filled with quality action. Hell there’s a late game sequence where Utah is left behind in a plane that Bodhi has just parachuted out of so he just figures fuck it and leaps out after him completely chute-less. It’s a great action movie, full of fun sequences (take a shot every time I say the word ‘scene’ or ‘sequence’ in this review) that actually lives up to the lame “pure adrenaline edition” name that has been given to the blu ray that I have.

In the last couple of years, maybe even longer actually, they have been talking about rebooting this movie much to the anger of the majority of the Internet. I never really understand why until now. This is the kind of movie that only could have been during the early 90’s. It’s undeniably silly but completely sincere. A modern day version would likely call attention to how ridiculous the whole premise is, and you don’t want that. However if they play it completely straight I really can’t see that working out either. It’s a product of its time and it works perfectly like that. Leave Point Break alone Hollywood, its fine as it is and I now completely get why people were so baffled that I hadn’t seen it. This is a really good one and I am glad to finally be aware of that.