When watching a movie like Point Break, it’s often the case that you may try to compare it to movies that are of the same genre but also “make sense.” This is a fool’s errand, and will only lead to madness. Instead, it is best to do what the screenwriter, actors, stunt coordinators, editor, and myriad other cast and crew obviously did: imbibe a great quantity of illicit narcotics and watch the pretty colors as they fly by.
The movie’s plot centers loosely around an FBI agent (Keanu Reeves) (really) who begins his career by yelling at Gary Busey’s Teeth to prove his masculinity, and then goes surfing with Patrick Swayze’s Hair to bring it back into question. It’s a real ‘90s-guy commentary on the fluidity of human sexuality. That, or it’s the director (Kathryn Bigelow)’s attempt to bring all of her teen-girl fantasies to slow-motion glory on the big screen. Either way, it’s got way more unintentionally homoerotic rolling-in-the-surf moments than I usually expect from my action movies.
In between moments of pregnant pauses and deep, longing looks into the pooling blue (brown?) eyes of Keanu, Swayze finds time to rob some banks. Well, not just “some” banks. You only see one bank heist pulled off, in the frenetic, quick-cut MTV style that 90’s action movies were fond of (and The Rock perfected), but in later dialog it’s mentioned that they’ve knocked over 30+ banks, using the same M.O. Now, I’m not a genius. I’m not a particularly clever man. And I’m most certainly not an FBI anti-bank-robbery agent (though, if they’re hiring guys like Keanu, I probably have a shot). But it seems to me that if a group of guys dressing like US Presidents are robbing 30+ banks within a short distance of a beach, and you have Gary Busey’s Teeth telling you, in between inhaling whole keys of pure uncut China white, that it’s probably surfers, wouldn’t you at least give it a little look-see?
But I digress.
They eventually do give it a look-see, or at least Busey’s Teeth and Keanu’s karma do, and they apparently like what they see, because for the next 20 minutes or so Keanu spends most of his time trading meaningful glances (and sack time with the then-hot Lori Petty) with Swayze’s Hair. The next 20 minutes after that are pretty much the same, except they take place in midair. The movie eventually ends, after about six or seven unnecessary plot twists and a final roll in the surf for Keanu and Swayze’s Hair.
For a movie that’s as lightweight as this, the direction, and especially the cinematography, is actually very solid. It involves a lot of slow-motion and lens flare as the waves curl over the surfers and Swayze’s Hair hangs ten. Derivative? Probably. But it’s still really pretty.
The acting is. It just is. Everything you need to know about the acting in this movie can be gleaned from reading the cast listing. Swayze’s Hair does a nice job of playing the stoner yogi with a heart of gold and a lust for money. In other words, he plays himself. Keanu plays every role with the intensity of a high school sophomore trying to undo his first bra in the back of a dark station wagon, and with just as much success. He tries to convince you that EVERY. LINE. IS. IMPORTANT. and fails wonderfully while doing so. Really, the best reason to watch this movie is to see the interaction between Keanu and Gary Busey’s Teeth, and wonder A) how either of these men ever had a career in Hollywood, and B) if there are enough Quaaludes on the planet to bring Gary Busey’s Teeth down off his crack cocaine high, or enough crack cocaine to bring Keanu up off his stoner mellow. It’s really a wonder to behold.
And what is to be gleaned from all this? Simply that this is a movie to be watched, not alone and sober as I watched it, but in the presence of great friends, and great quantities of liquor. It’s a movie you can make fun of, and still think “you know what? I kind of enjoyed that.” And then realize it’s the dozen bottles of Miller High Life that are talking, and not any kind of logical thought.