7/18/07

R009 Point Break

(1991, Crime Drama/Sports, color)

Riffers:

Mike Nelson

When aroused, the surfer will emit a high-pitched howl.

Rating: *1/2

In a nutshell:

Keanu Reeves goes undercover to catch a gang of surfing bank robbers.

Summary:

Sadly, not Bill and Ted 3.Rookie FBI special agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) arrives in Los Angeles, greeted by the scorn of his superiors and peers. His first partner: the gruff and disgruntled Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey). His first case: catch the ex-presidents, a gang of bank robbers who wear rubber masks decorated with the visages of former chief executives.

Tan lines and suspicious traces of wax lead Pappas to believe that the robbers are surfers. So, lacking any other reasonable leads, Johnny learns to surf. To this end, he recruits surfer babe Tyler (Lori Petty) who introduces him to surfing Zen master Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) and his followers, with whom Johnny forms an unlikely friendship.

In this midst of this surfer activity, Johnny runs afoul of a vicious gang of violent surfer dudes, who match the ex-presidents in number and body type. Could it be that he’s found his men?

(Nothing points to this as a red herring, does it? I mean, aside from the fact that it’s too early in the picture to deliver that kind of payoff; we’ve heard all the sinister foreshadowing conversation with Johnny’s new friends; and the back of the DVD case identifies Swayze as the real villain.)

Johnny nearly misses the raid after an all-night surfing/sex party on the beach, but it doesn’t matter. The raid goes down; people are shot, stabbed, and forced towards the spinning blades of an upturned lawn mower; and several kilos of illegal drugs are seized. Afterwards, his shrill superior introduces him to a disheveled DEA agent, who chews them out for ruining three months worth of undercover work. The upshot: they’ve caught the wrong gang, for the wrong reasons.

Are you sure about this new fiscal policy, Mr. Reagan?The next day, Johnny has an epiphany that flashes him back to all the previous sinister foreshadowing. He jumps to the obvious conclusion and starts to tail Bodhi and his followers. His suspicions prove correct; he disrupts their next heist, and most of the gang dies in the ensuing gunfight. His superiors try to arrest him for being at the scene of the crime, but Pappas springs him and they rush off in pursuit of Bodhi and his last remaining follower. More gunfire, and Pappas dies. Everyone jumps out of a plane for some reason, and Bodhi gets away.

Johnny dedicates the next several months of his life to tracking Bodhi down. They finally meet on the beaches of Australia during a powerful storm. They wrestle in the waves and Johnny wins, handcuffing Bodhi while the Australian cops close in. Bodhi begs Johnny to let him surf just one more time on the enormous waves. Johnny throws his badge away and lets Bodhi go. The Australian cops wait on the beach while Bodhi paddles into the stormy sea, where he will probably drown.

Thoughts:

As in Road House, Swayze's philosophical proclivities compel him to commit acts of startling violence.Some of the commentary was funny, most notably Mike’s comments about the filmmaking, e.g.: “Written by and for guys who’ve taken one too many surfboards to the head,” and, “The editor must have done a line in the bathroom, because we’re suddenly out of control.” Also abundant are comparisons to other movies, such as: “If you watch this movie, you are now legally exempt from watching Blue Crush,” and, “This movie is essentially ‘Jackass Goes to the Beach’.”

Commentary aside, though, I did not enjoy this movie at all. I found it hostile to its audience and mind-numbingly stupid. Keanu’s desperate flatness; the maddeningly obvious red herring; the way everyone shouted at each other constantly for no apparent reason. Not quite as mind-numbing and hostile as, say, Battlefield Earth, but that movie had a lot of inane SciFi goofiness mixed in, and a full crew of MST3K alumni on hand to mock it. This movie is much more competent with its hostility, and Mike all by his lonesome wasn’t enough to overcome it for me.

That said, the movie itself is mostly competent and often suspenseful. So if you like hostile, competent, suspenseful, mind-numbing movies, and you like Rifftrax, then you’ll probably like Point Break. I didn’t, though.