Sunday, December 28, 2008

Point Break

In Point Break (1991) surfer dudes disguise themselves as ex-American presidents and rob banks. Their leader is played by Patrick Swayze. A young FBI agent, Johnny Utah, played by Keanu Reeves, is assigned to go undercover and infiltrate the group. In doing so, he falls in love with a girl who hangs with the surfers. He also bonds with the surfers. Swayze explains to his group at one point that they don't rob banks because they are greedy but because they are making a statement against the system—they're being individuals, rebels. Surfing is also a way they express their rebellious individualism.

Although the surfing sequences in the film aren't particularly exciting, two sequences involving sky diving are. In the second, Keanu dives from an airplane without a parachute, in pursuit of Swayze, who has kidnapped his girlfriend.

Just about everything in this movie is improbable. The main feature Swayze has going for him is his hair, and that isn't enough. Keanu Reeves shows more emotion in this film that in his later work, where catatonia seems to be his primary mode. When the surfer dudes discover he is an undercover FBI agent, instead of killing him or refusing to have anything to do with him they take him skydiving. Bad judgment on Reeves' part gets him into all sorts of trouble. The film doesn't intend that its audience apply firm rules of logic to the viewing experience.

The film wants us to admire the surfer dudes and their rebellious individualism, their revolt against the system, even at the same time it is careful to show the dudes getting their comeuppance.

Gary Busey plays a wild-eyed FBI agent to whom Reeves is assigned as his partner. Busey's character brings some life to an otherwise deadening film, though it is clear more or less from his first appearance that he will not survive.

Surfing, bank robberies, skydiving, the rubbery masks of ex-presidents, Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, lots of gunfire—what more can be said?

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