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Film Review: Point Break

Starring: Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Back in 1991 the world was a smaller place. The internet was in its infancy and subcultures, tribes, such as the surfing community, were mysterious to most of us. Perhaps they did act and sound like Patrick Swayze’s boho-hippy bank robber in search of ‘the ultimate rush’, we didn’t know. Only now we do, and, assumed caricatures apart, they really don’t.

Point Break (1991) is quaint in its depiction of an alternative lifestyle. Not faithful, yet still functions as an above average, really quite vicious action thriller. It vividly showcases brutality, not least with the gunning down of a police officer in the back and a beach fight that reverberates with the slaps and smacks of skin on skin.

Director Kathryn Bigelow aligns our viewpoint with Keanu Reeves’ Johnny Utah’s throughout much of the film; during the night time party, the aforementioned beach and lawnmower fights and, most tellingly, early on when Utah spies on Lori Petty changing out of her swimwear on the beach. The teasing, lingering shots offer little to the narrative above titillation – for the viewer as much as Utah.

There is no precedent to say it takes a woman to make a superior action movie, but it might take one to make it sexy. Bigelow seems to understand her intended audience of young heterosexual men better than many of her male contemporaries. They choose to showcase the male losing his top, (this was especially prevalent in the mid 1980s-early 90’s and apparently for the benefit of a heterosexual female audience), Bigelow on the other hand showcases the female form.

Despite some dated Z-Boy philosophising Point Break is a cult favourite, thanks largely to its memorable dialogue (“Young, dumb and full of cum” having entered contemporary lexicon) and a securely arched buddy match up between Bodhi and Utah that, while too hastily initiated to fully convince, does up the re-watch value considerably.

© 2009 – 2014, Lord Christopher Laverty.