Point Break, clearly broken

Last night I watched Point Break again. This was only the second time I’ve watched it, the first being a few years ago, after the recommendation of Seargeant Danny Butterman. On first viewing, I found it very easy, and often more enjoyable, to stop paying attention to the film and do something else, and the same can most definitely be said of this second viewing. I’m going to place the blame for this mainly upon the shoulders of Keanu Reeves, as the improbably, but somewhat awesomely monikered Johnny Utah.

Much time and typing has been spent deriding the acting ability of Mr. Reeves, and I don’t intend to waste any more than is necessary. As revered as the fellow should be for his depiction of ‘Ted’ Theodore Logan, his pale, featureless face, so fitting for the blank canvas required of the likes of Neo, so rarely emits any form of emotion that one wonders if he is aware the cameras are rolling, or even if he is conscious. At one point in Point Break, Utah approaches a surfer to steal a lock of his hair for evidence. Reeves slips effortlessly back into his surfer dude slacker mode, one of the few moments that fully convinces, but, upon completion of his task, he walks away from the purplexed surfer and reverts his expression to that of professional seriousness, and yet his facial muscles barely even twitch.

The hallowed shot from the aforementioned Hot Fuzz, where Utah has the opportunity to shoot Patrick Swayze’s surfer/bank robber Bodhi but cannot, as he loves him too much, is an odd choice for an iconic moment. Were it not for the explanation and parodying of this scene within Hot Fuzz, I am unsure as to whether it’s full meaning, that Utah and Bodhi have developed such a respect for one another that the former cannot shoot the latter, would have been as obvious to understand as Butterman says, as previous to this moment the two have only briefly interacted on screen. Whilst it is possible that offscreen the two have shared many bro-mantic adventures and escapades, we see little evidence of this, and therefore cannot fully comprehend why Utah doesn’t just shoot the guy.

The ending of the film also causes annoyance, as [SPOILER] Utah lets Bodhi free from his handcuffs so he can attempt to surf a 50-year storm wave, a moment he was apparently born to do. It has already been mentioned earlier in the film that Bodhi wouldn’t mind, and may indeed prefer, to die doing jut this kind of thing, so for Utah to spend weeks, maybe even months, tracking him down, only to let him go so he can fulfill his lifelong ambition, lacks closure for me. Although I suppose it could be argued that all Utah became obsessed with catching Bodhi and, having succeeded in this, saw no real need for his imprisonment, but then the fact that Bodhi and his team caused much embarrassment for Utah, as well as kidnapping his girlfriend and killing his partner (they killed Gary Busey! how dare they), so you’d expect some kind of penance to have to be paid. In the end, Bodhi does not have to pay for his crimes, as he was going to surf the wave, and presumably die, anyway.

Not to say that Point Break is an entirely bad film. Kathryn Bigelow, most recently acclaimed for her stunning picture the Hurt Locker, has indeed crafted some exceptional moments of cinema. The opening shot, a steadi-cam tour of the L.A. FBI department, follows John C. McGinley, perfectly cast as the fast-talking, put-down-spouting Harp (admittedly not a stretch for him, see Platoon, Wall Street, Scrubs, hell everything he’s done bar Identity and Office Space) aptly drowns us in the hustle and bustle of policework into which Utah has been dropped, whilst also being a technical masterclass rarely seen these days.

All in all, watching the film does little more than pass the time, and I’ve no intention of watching it again, but do intend to seek out more of Bigelow’s work.

Choose Life 6/10

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