Wednesday, July 25, 2007



For several years now, the Ex-Presidents have been robbing banks along southern California. FBI Agent Pappas (Gary Busey) has a wild theory that the bank robbers are actually surfers, and enlists his young, hot-headed partner Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) to go undercover as a surfer to see what he can figure out. His path quickly crosses with a local surfer, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), a zen-like adrenaline junkie. Utah is soon taken under Bodhi's wing, and together with his surf buddies, take to the land, sea and air in search of the next rush.

Meanwhile, Utah has met and fallen in love with Tyler (Lori Petty) and ex-girlfriend of Bodhi. It is this personal connection that is Utah's downfall. Utah's investigation brings him to the conclusion that Bodhi and his friends are in fact the Ex-Presidents, and it is only then that Bodhi makes a psychotic move to kidnap Tyler and forces Utah to join his gang on the next heist!

The notion of "extreme sports" was just starting to creep into the national mind when this film splashed down in the summer of 1991, which captures the excitement of these events with a vigorous death-grip. Director Kathryn Bigelow, who proves wholeheartedly here that women can also bring action to the screen, uses point-of-view camera work to bring the viewer straight into the strange and heart-pumping world that is introduced here. From the foaming blue waves of SoCal to a magnificent and beautiful skydiving sequence, the viewer is right there with the characters. Bigelow also brings this same up-close-and-personal style into the bank robbing sequences, putting the viewer right in the middle of the danger. She would later go on to perfect this style in her 1995 success, STRANGE DAYS.

Keanu Reeves, as Johnny Utah, helps to dig himself into the surfer stereotype that would plague his early career. Here, he is still a weak in the acting department, and resorts to long gazes and clenched teeth to get the characters moods across. Reeves, and more importantly the character of Utah, does not come off as an FBI agent well, and although it is a minor point, it is a subconscious infiltration that brings the film out of the real world and into fantasy action land. Patrick Swayze, as Bodhi, brings a calm and yin-yang opposite to the screen. He has both a physical and mental presence that commands attention, which makes his philosophical ramblings throughout the film not only plausible but believable.

POINT BREAK is one of those films that can only be made, and more specifically made well, at the time when it was released. America was coming out of the muscle-bound 80's action films, and starting to look for something more sleek, while the energy of X-Games style events were starting to make it into mainstream media and grabbing attention of those unfamiliar with them. This is a marriage of those interests, and it serves as a basis upon which action films of the 90's were made, both in style and content. It is hard to imagine that this film is already 90's nostalgia, but alas it is, and as such is a worthwhile trip back in time to an age where awesome action films could be made without the crutch of CGI.


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