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USA 1991
Directed by
Kathryn Bigelow
122 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Point Break (1991)

Kathryn Bigelow who had had quite a measure of success with her first major studio film, Blue Steel (1989) about a rookie NYPD cop, teams with her then-husband/producer James Cameron for this somewhat off-beat action film about a rookie FBI agent, the improbably-named Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), who goes undercover to infiltrate a group of Southern California surfers suspected of robbing banks under the rubric of the "Ex-Presidents" led by Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) who sees his crimes as emblematic acts of non-conformism.

The story by Rick King and W. Peter Iliff, with the screenplay by the latter, rings some engaging changes on the crime genre template with an unusual setting and a kind of existential moral conflict that would appeal to Takeshi Kitano whilst Bigelow ups the ante on her previous work with some inventive staging including a house raid that goes wrong, a cleverly permuting footchase and a virtuosic sky-diving sequence (of course much credit for these should go to cinematographer Donald Peterman). 

All this makes for an above-average action film with a buffed Keanu Reeves, in the first of many action films that he would make, with his “Dude, where’s my car?” vocal delivery a likeably unheroic protagonist "You're as smart as a whip" says Bodhi to him with more than a trace of irony. But there’s more - the naff MTV argot that marks at least the early stage of the films, some great lines of quotable hammy dialogue and over-the-top performances from Gary Busey, Tom Sizemore and John C.McGinley have given it quite a cult cachet.  Lori Petty who plays Johnny’s girlfriend  came from a career in television and returned to it shortly thereafter, stopping only briefly to make the disastrous Tank Girl.




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