Kathryn Bigelow: The '80s & '90s
Point Break (August 3/09)
Though it's overlong by about half an hour, Point Break boasts a number of overtly positive attributes that effectively cement its success - with Kathryn Bigelow's superb direction and the uniformly impressive performances setting the movie apart from its similarly-themed brethren. The storyline follows green FBI agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) as he goes deep undercover within Los Angeles' surfing scene in an effort at tracking down a group of notorious bank robbers; problems ensue as Johnny finds himself drawn into the laid-back lifestyle of several beach bums, including a scrappy tomboy (Lori Petty's Tyler) and Patrick Swayze's mysterious (yet personable) Bodhi. Bigelow has infused the early part of Point Break with a deliberate sensibility that essentially ensures that the movie doesn't quite kick into high gear until about the one-hour mark, with the consistent emphasis on Bodhi and his waterfront pals' easy-going antics establishing a low-key atmosphere that's perpetuated by the inclusion of an almost excessive amount of slow-motion surfing scenes. Reeves and Swayze's thoroughly charismatic work - as well as Bigelow's impressive, frequently jaw-dropping visuals - proves effective at sustaining the viewer's interest even through the film's relatively uneventful stretches, with the transformation from agreeable drama to enthralling thriller triggered by an absolutely electrifying interlude in which Johnny and his fellow cops raid a house full of armed punks. The inclusion of an equally compelling car/foot chase just a few minutes later secures Point Break's place as an above-average actioner, and it's ultimately impossible not to lament the dearth of such endeavors from contemporary multiplexes.