Bad movies have existed since the birth of cinema, and it’s never stopped being fun to mock them. Tommy Wiseau’s “Citizen Kane of bad movies” The Room has generated a stage show, a tell-all book, a video game – and is somehow still showing in Australian cinemas. Sometimes, though, movies slip into mockery that deserve more than ironic love. Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break is one of those films.
Yes, the spectacular machismo of this FBI-agent-turns-undercover-surfer movie has been sent-up in Edgar Wright’s Hot Fuzz. (“Have you ever fired your gun up in the air and gone ‘ahhrgh’?”) Yes, it has inspired a long-running theatre piece in which an unrehearsed audience member reading off cue cards plays Keanu Reeves. Yes, it contains lines like “young, dumb and full of come” and “I caught my first tube today… sir”.
But before Bigelow had Oscar-cred from The Hurt Locker, she was already a master. Point Break’s surfing scenes are shot with Biblical levels of awe. The steadicam chase (a technique Bigelow would later plunder for her sci-fi Strange Days) still thrills. Patrick Swayze’s zen-like Bohdi and Keanu Reeve’s “quarterback punk” Johnny Utah display perfect amour fou – ‘crazy love’ – and when there’s a bank robber in a Reagan mask using a petrol pump as a flamethrower, you don’t have to dig deep for subversive subtext.
So hoot and holler at your favourite lines. God knows they deserve it. But consider that maybe Point Break isn’t dumb fun. It’s smart fun. Hell, it’s genius fun. And as Bodhi says: “Ain’t it wild? That’s what makes it so interesting!”