BY EMILY GAGNE
WHAT it’s about: A young FBI agent and former football star goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of philosophically-motivated surfers, who may be responsible for a series of local bank robberies.
WHO’s in it: Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey and Lori Petty.
WHEN it came out: 1991
HOW come you haven’t heard of (or just seen) it: Unless you’re a Keanu or a Swayze fan, I’m gonna bet you saw the goofy, bromantic poster art for this and backed away slowly. From that standpoint, it does look like some terrible straight-to-DVD surf flick. Also, with all the hype for her more serious movies, The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t seem too big on reminding us about this one. It’s a shame really – I think this is one of her best, at least entertainment-wise.
WHY you need to watch it–immediately!:
- The to-the-point tagline: 100 % pure adrenaline.
- Did you look at the cast list? Swayze and Reeves? Does it get any more comically straight-faced legit than that?
- The storyline sounds ridiculous, but it actually makes a lot of sense when it all shakes out. Especially after hearing Swayze go on a handful of pointed philosophical riffs to explain it. As always, he is fully committed, emotionally and physically, to the part.
- Not only do these surfers rob banks, they do it while wearing masks made to look like ex-presidents! And at one point, the Nixon-masked one quips, “I’m not a crook!”
- Swayze’s character has beautifully flowing bleached locks and goes by the name “Bodhi,” which is a nod to the Buddhist being Bodhisattva.
- Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis makes a cameo as one of the dudes.
- The cinematography is kinda breathtaking. In addition to the obvious surfing stuff, there’s an epic skydiving scene that doesn’t appear to be greenscreened at all.
- There are definite references to Swayze’s other primo film work, including one line that clearly nods to Johnny Castle’s taste in cars: “That’s a surfboard all right! Looks like a ’57 Chevy I used to have….”
- It won the MTV Movie Award for Most Desirable Male (Keanu Reeves).
- It’s a testament to how excellent a director Bigelow is. Although her more recent work may peg her as strictly serious and politically-motivated, this movie goes to show that she’s actually quite a layered filmmaker, having also mastered the art of laidback funnies and popcorn moments.