Point Break

Year: 1991
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, Lori Petty, Gary Busey, John C McGinley, Anthony Kiedis, Peter Phelps
Ex James Cameron squeeze Kathryn Bigelow has been the most successful female action film director in Hollywood history – in the creative and most probably the financial sense. Though her star has plummeted in recent years (K-19 was critically reviled and a flop, and her only project since is something called The Hurt Locker which has only played at a few European festivals), she had a unique handle on the masculine swagger of the action genre with Strange Days, Near Dark and this, the pinnacle of her career.

The idea's deceptively pedestrian – a young FBI agent eager to prove himself is determined to crack a bank robbery gang that may be the enigmatic surfers he falls in with during his time undercover.

But it's the charisma that drips from every word of dialogue, the almost homoerotic respect the hero and villain have for each other, the audacious action movie set pieces that take place in a very real and contemporary suburban Los Angeles.

Even the hero's ridiculous name – Johnny Utah, one that would sound like a bad superhero parody in other movie – belongs. Reeves was never an Oscar contender, but the script and direction extracts just the right amount of prep-boy rage out of him.

And Swayze as the guru-like Bodhi is the perfect all-knowing puppet master yin to Utah's foundering but determined yang. The obligatory love interest in Tyler (Petty) is almost an intrusion into such a testosterone-soaked atmosphere. Not having made much of a splash upon its release, now it's an underground classic.

But for Australians, the climax is another cringe-worthy Hollywood example of what they think we sound like.

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