Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bigelow Fest: Point Break

You're about to jump out a perfectly good airplane Jonny, how do you feel about that?

Vaya con Dios, Brah

-Point Break Being Awesome-

Time for a critical Mea Culpa. Up until very recently I had never seen Point Break. Yes that’s right…

The guy who can quote the entire screenplay of Hot Fuzz verbatim, never saw Point Break.

The guy who has been known to after a few beers defend Keanu Reeves. Indeed citing his performance in Constantine as particularly kind of awesome, in a weird cat on your lap sort of way, never saw Point Break.

The guy whose love of camp and kitsch rivals that of most drag queens, never saw Point Break.

Why I never saw it I can’t say. It’s just one of those things I missed when I was young enough to take it seriously and have never been all that interested in watching when I found out it was insane. But I knew I couldn’t write up Kathryn Bigelow’s career, much less consider myself a complete human being, without seeing it. It was there burning… Like acid in my mouth. And for what it’s worth I’m glad I did. I mean for fuck’s sake it’s a movie featuring Gary Busey, Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Sky Diving, Surfing, Bank Robbery and serious man love. To not find something to enjoy in this glorious mess of a movie one would have to be some alien supercomputer incapable of feeling what we human classify as “Love”. Sure it’s a hyperactive cartoon that is on some basic level a squandering of Bigelow’s potential. And birds have wings, its simply the nature of the beast. Accept or reject it, but don’t blame the particulars.

Keanu Reeves plays an FBI agent, named Johnny Utah CAUSE HE FUCKING IS!!, who goes under cover with a group of surfers who are suspected of robbing banks while dressed as ex presidents. The gang is led by the mysterious Bodhi, played by Patrick Swayze at his Patrick Swayziest, and an epic bromance begins between the two (and yes I know the term is annoying, but well sometimes one can’t help what the right word is). Skydiving, surfering, bank robbing, and “firing a gun up into the air because he just loves him so much” also ensue.

If Blue Steel was hampered by Bigelow trying to rein in her utterly insane impulses for the sake of mainstream cinematic propriety, Point Break is basically her throwing up her hands and going, “Fuck That.” The appeal of Point Break is how little lip service is paid to making it seem even remotely plausible. Normally words like “Ridiculous” and “Nonsensical” are used as negatives but in the case of Point Break they’re positive boons. Point Break is so far over the top that it’s damn near surrealist. Little separates it from the average episode of Aqua Teen Hunger Force. When the straight man in your movie is Gary Busey you know something has gone horribly wrong. Or in this case, horribly right. Point Break is the logical endpoint for the wonderfully Vulgar 80’s blockbuster cinema. It’s also and uncoincidentally it’s completely mad.


Troy Olson said...

2 other points on the film:

- Johnny Utah is not only an undercover FBI agent, but he also just happened to be a top QB at Ohio State before he blew his knee out (or something). That added bit of implausibility is like the cherry on the sundae of Reeves' character.

- Gary Busey. He's hilarious in this, especially his whole deal about meatball sandwiches (which is a convoluted way for them to miss the robbery as it's taking place).

And for as much as I make fun of the high-concept of the film, the action scenes are certainly well done (especially the raid scene in the middle at the house).

Jay Clarke said...

Bigelow Week! Excellent idea!!! I saw her in person in 2008 while she was premiering Hurt Locker at TIFF. Really classy lady.

Anyhoo, I wanted to let you know I nominated you for a "Fantastically Frightening Award". Check it out here,

Evil Dead Junkie said...

@ Troy Oh yeah you've gotta love that whole QB thing.
That's what makes the movie so great though. It's not like Michael Bay. Its not incompetent, Bigelow knows how to put a scene together, she's just made something completely goofy.

@ Jay Thank you very much sir. PS Finally got my copy of Portable Grindhouse that I ordered thanks to you. You're right it was awesome.