The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Point Break (1991)

Photobucket

When thinking of what four films to post for a Patrick Swayze week, first Road House came to mind, and then Point Break. It's just another Swayze classic. Plus, this one has a DTVC Hall of Famer in Gary Busey. I also think, and I'll have to check on this, that this is first film I've featured with a woman director-- not only that, but a director who was on the jury of the Berlin and Venice film festivals.

Point Break has Keanu Reeves as a former college football player, Johnny Utah, who is an FBI agent just out of the academy. He pairs up with Gary Busey to investigate a series of bank robberies by some dudes in US President masks. At the same time, while going undercover to catch them, Reeves meets Swayze and his gang of surfers. They become friends. But things are going on with Swayze, and Reeves gets suspicious. As the evidence points to Swayze, Reeves has to figure out if he's too far gone to arrest him.

Photobucket

All right, I'm going to come clean here. I don't just like this movie, I actually think it's good. Like good, good. I know, I know, Keanu Reeves goes to law school on a football scholarship. I know, I know, Vincent Klyn's character is named Warchild. I know, there's the overly dramatic scene when Reeves sees Swayze's eyes through the Reagan mask and discharges his gun in the air whilst yelling in pain. I know all this, and I'm not sure exactly what I can point to and say "that's quality"-- but for whatever reason, it just is to me. Maybe I'm just crazy.

Swayze's character is named Bodhi. He's pretty much full of shit, and you get the sense that if Swayze ever met Bodhi in real life, he'd see through his bullshit. So would legendary bouncer Dalton. I think it just speaks to Swayze's range. Bodi and Dalton are both Swayze, and he pulls them both off, but they're so different. Very few actors can be such convincing heroes and baddies, and I think the only reason why Swayze never received more credit for his ability to do so was that Road House and Point Break were considered such cheesefests.

Photobucket

I've never reviewed a Keanu Reeves film on here, so this gives me a unique opportunity to discuss an actor whose films are usually outside my pay grade. In 1991, Reeves was two years removed from Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which made him one of the biggest things in Hollywood at that time. As the nineties moved on, he did more Johnny Mnemonics and Speeds and Chain Reactions, and that star faded. Now, ten years after the first Matrix, Reeves is again making big time box office blockbusters like The Day the Earth Stopped. I guess my question is, why was there ever an up and down? Do you see any difference in the Special Agent Johnny Utah now and then? I liked him in this, My Own Private Idaho, and Dangerous Liaisons. I didn't get him in the Matrix Trilogy. The whole Utah as Neo thing was weird. If anything, Paul Walker should be wondering why it didn't work as well for him.

Speaking of Walker, we all know The Fast and the Furious was a remake of Point Break. When I was in college in 2002, as a senior, some freshmen were watching The Fast and the Furious, and they didn't know what I was talking about when I told them it was a remake. "What's Point Break?" Amazing that in only ten years someone can repackage a basic paradigm and release it to a new group of kids who have no idea that it ripped off another movie that was made when they were 8. The one thing that The Fast and the Furious lacked that Point Break had (other than Swayze and Busey), was Kathryn Bigelow's artistic direction. The script of Point Break may have been cheesy, but it had the best foot chase in the history of film, among other great scenes. Also, I wonder if Bigelow, being a women, dialed down the tool factor considerably, which was a major sticking point in The Fast and the Furious.

Photobucket

In 1991, I never considered the ramifications of having Tom Seizemore and Gary Busey in the same film. The volume of drug use must have been astounding. Swayze doesn't have any scenes with Seizemore, which is a disappointment. I'd love to have seen Swayze as Bodhi trying to make sense of Seizemore (in a moment that was probably art imitating life) pouring beer over his cereal. I actually tried that myself once. Disgusting. Busey is pure Busey as Reeves' partner. This role is what the Abusive scale was made from-- it is the control, the basis upon which every other Busey role is measured.

Any Swayze fest should include this classic. With Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker gaining buzz in theaters, Point Break is being recognized again for entirely different reasons. Whether you like it for Swayze, Bigelow, or both, this is a must for any collection.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102685/

6 comments:

  1. I think this movie might be Swayze's best action flick? Its not his best performance, but its one of the best movies he is in.

    The chase sequence in Point Break is freaking awesome, they go through houses, backyards, alleys...that sequence Im sure has influenced many others.

    Kathryn Bigelow has always been one of my favorite directors, I recently got a chance to rewatch her sci-fi flick Strange Days, the one with Ralph Fiennes and Angela Bassett and Juliette Lewis. The first 10 minutes are freaking intense!

    It consists of another excellent chase sequence that happens almost entirely in one take from a first person point of view! Ending with a guy trying to jump from roof top to roof top, and then falling to his death!

    Highly recommend Strange Days if you havent seen it already.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, I loved Strange Days. Bigelow is a very interesting director, especially when you go from Blue Steel to K-9: The Widow Maker.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bigelow is great, Im looking forward to watching her most recent film: The Hurt Locker. I hear nothing but good things about it.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yeah, me too. What's also great about that film is it's causing people to re-examine her older works, which is great, because, like we've been saying, she's done a lot of great work.

    ReplyDelete
  5. After reading this you actually made me like it more. I must have been tired or something when I was watching this because I didn't think it was Desert Heat bad but I thought it was kinda goofy, but after reading your review I realized that I obviously was not paying attention. It is a good movie and the chase sequence was very very good! I did however feel that the Swayze/Reeves conflict was drawn out a tad towards the end, but again I was obviously not watching the movie very closely.

    ReplyDelete
  6. When I first saw it I wasn't too big on it either, but if you can get past some of the silliness, like Special Agent Johnny Utah going to law school on a football scholarship, and see it more for Bigelow's directing style, it works better.

    ReplyDelete