Of course first we must bring up the acting. It is a Keanu Reeves movie, after all. He was rather perfect for the role. He might not have been the most logical "EFF. BEE. EYE. AGENT!" But he can definitely pull off the whole stoner surfer vibe (and how great is the name Johnny Utah?). And Gary Busey is having fun as his washed-up partner (no pun intended). He also sure likes his meatball subs. McGinley is also a lot of fun as their always incredibly pissed off boss. As for Swayze... This film also came out two years after Road House, so Swayze must have really been in a zen kind of mood around that time of his career. It was interesting, though, to see him play a character with similar ideals but use them in completely different ways--one to keep the peace, the other to upset it. But both Dalton and Bodhi are all about finding that inner peace.
The action is truly the standout in this movie, though. From the house raid where Keanu gets his ass kicked by a naked woman to the suspense of free falling from an airplane (once where you're not sure if the parachute is gonna open or not, and once where he's literally free falling). But best sequence in the film, though, hands down is about halfway through the movie. It starts with a car chase and then ends up on foot with Johnny chasing a masked Bodhi through yards and houses. There's even a moment where Bodhi actually throws a dog at Johnny to slow him down. And not just any tiny dog or anything. I'm relatively sure it was a freakin' pitbull. Who throws a
shoe dog, honestly? And, of course, it ends with the most iconic moment in the movie (especially thanks to Hot Fuzz) with Johnny firing his gun up into the air. Such a fantastic sequence from beginning to end.
My biggest complaint is actually going to sound incredibly stupid. So I just want all of you to brace yourselves for this... there was too much surfing. Yeah, I know. I don't really mean overall... but at least in the first 45 minutes. I understand some of the scenes were important, and it wasn't really the fact they were there... but they didn't have to go on nearly as long as they did. And then there was the little night football game that dragged on a little longer than necessary. But if you know me, you know sports are kind of boring to me. So there were a lot of moments in the first 45 minutes where I was just like "OK, I get it... move on already." Also, the film broke a "Chekhov's Gun" rule. When Busey's character is introduced, he's having to learn how to pick up bricks blindfolded in the bottom of a pool as a training exercise. He even says "When will I ever need this?" You don't introduce something as out-there as that and then not have it come into play in a bank robbing surfers movie.
Overall, though, I dug it. There was some fantastic action in this movie, either because it was truly great or because it was just strange (naked woman, dog throwing, etc.). I could have done with a little less extensive surfing sequences, but I understand why they were there, obviously. Iconic moments, iconic lines... it's clear why this is a cult action flick. And it was made by a (now Oscar-winning) female director! Anywho... vaya con dios, mi amigos.
A Keanu 'Whoa'
(P.S. Why do all my Keanu movies end up with this rating? I swear I don't do it on purpose.)