Movies That Deserve More Love: Point Break (1991)

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“You gonna jump or jerk off?”

Aww, look at Keanu up there. He doesn’t know about all this Hollywood blockbuster stuff, he’s just acting his little heart out…. and it’s radical.

Ahoy, brahs! Aidan here.

I. LOVE. Point Break.

Point BreakI’ve gushed over “the golden decade” (the 1990s) on this site so much already that I’ll try my best to avoid any more redundancy. But Point Break is the epitome of 90s action and, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest action films ever made.

Hot off the tail of the ten year span of macho porn that is 1980s action cinema, Point Break erupted into theaters with a splash. Helmed by the now-Oscar-winning Kathryn Bigelow (then married to James Cameron, whose film T2: Judgement Day ironically cockblocked Bigelow’s Point Break from the #1 box office spot during opening weekend), Point Break chronicles brash football-star-turned-FBI-agent Johnny Utah as he infiltrates a gang of L.A. surfers who may be the Ex-Presidents – bank robbers who disguise themselves in latex Halloween masks of, you guessed it, ex-presidents.

Social commentary?! Eh, kinda.

Point BreakAll in all, Point Break is a visceral shot of adrenaline from the greatest era of action cinema in history. It’s definitely emblematic of its time, but in a charming way that never detracts from the film’s quality.

Pretty much anything that dates the flick only heightens the fuzzy nostalgia you’re warmed by while watching it. It’s a lean, mean, towering 90s action flick, and hearing lines like “When you two are done jerking off to MTV, we need to get a look at those tapes” makes you smile, not cringe.

Keanu Reeves stars as Johnny Utah in a role that’s famous for…. well, being played by Keanu Reeves. His presence connotes certain qualities that are inexplicable…. dammit, just watch the video above.

Point BreakThat’s Keanu Reeves, that’s Johnny Utah. After years of rewatching the film, I’m still a little unsure as to why I’m in love with his performance – he’s playing the cliche action renegade here, and it works on a level of cheese, but he’s so damn believable that you take it seriously at the same time. Pretty much, he’s sympathetic because he is Keanu Reeves playing a bad-boy action hero, a typecast just as alien to Reeves as it was to Bruce Willis when he was cast in Die Hard.

But he works brilliantly.

Then we have Patrick Swayze as Bodhi, the zen leader of the surfing gang who preaches high-octane adrenaline rushes (surfing, football, skydiving, and yes, bank robbing) as religious repossessions of the human spirit. A renegade at heart, his free-form spiritual dogma seduces Johnny, who’s feeling more and more like a bull trapped in a cage of legal formalities. He’s sent to infiltrate the gang, but once he’s given a taste of the edge, he is hooked.

Point BreakTo this day, I’ll swear up and down that Swayze makes for the most sympathetic movie nemesis ever put on screen. Bodhi’s immensely charming presence gives full credibility to Johnny’s temptation to join the dark side, because hell – we love hanging with Bodhi too. He was Tyler Durden before there was Tyler Durden.

And we don’t want to shoot at him. We’d rather fire our gun up in the air and go “Ah!” (yes, a Hot Fuzz reference).

Everyone else from Gary Busey to Lori Petty is fantastic, and the thrilling action sequences have a real sense of stake to them. Foot chases, car chases, and bank robberies are all fun to watch and still feel real. Bigelow’s feminine touch graces the film with a calmly ethereal layer of feeling that stirs just below the movie’s surface. Rewatch it and you’ll see for yourself. Her unique perspective graces the film with an elegance and majesty that really appropriately taps into the spiritual side of the ocean and our animalistic connection to its rush.

File_20119139448Point Break has held a special place in my heart since my first testosterone-pumped viewing years ago; besides being my go-to “cheer up movie,” its perfection of the “in-too-deep” undercover cop formula reaffirmed my waning love for the genre and sparked a desire in me to bring about a resurgence of the raw power these films held, no matter how silly they may seem in hindsight. There’s a visceral energy in Point Break in particular that’s sorely lacking in modern action offerings.

Speaking of which, what the hell is up with The Fast and the Furious‘s cinematographer directing a Point Break remake? A remake is idiotic enough, but when its coming from the folks who brought you what was essentially a remake of Point Break in the first place? Jesus Christ. End the madness now. It’s supposed to take place “in the world of extreme sports,” ignoring the spirituality – however silly it may be at its core – that made this one so special.

Ah well. Here’s hoping it dies a miserable death! May the shit of the remake fertilize fields of daisies that mark the hopeful end of modern Hollywood’s CGI masturbation.

See you next week for another installment of Movies That Deserve More Love!

Until then…. “I am an F-B-I agent!”

 

 

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About the Author

Aidan Green
is a current Radio-Television-Film major at the University of Texas at Austin and a freelance screenwriter, filmmaker, editor, and graphic designer. He has written, directed, and collaborated on several award-winning short films and is a passionate cinephile, idolizing the likes of David Fincher and Tommy Wiseau.
  • point break is awesome

  • Caliber_Voorhees

    I couldn’t agree more. Matter of fact, in my book I made a special section for films people need to know that most didn’t, and Point Break was amongst that list.

    I’m DREADING the remake.

    I mean, who are they gonna find as great as Busey? That man makes us CARE that he’s so hungry he could eat the ass-end out of a dead rhino.

    • Aidan Myles Green

      Haha I LOVE the love for POINT BREAK. Busey’s insanity is irreplaceable. Lori Petty’s mousy sexiness is sheer 90s and can’t be recreated.

      And Keanu Reeves, well…. yeah.

      • Caliber_Voorhees

        How’d you like the Man Movie Encyclopedia article I did on it?

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