The 101 Action Movies brings this adrenaline rush of a film back into my life. I honestly hadn’t seen this one in years…
Keanu Reeves is rookie FBI agent, Johnny Utah, assigned to the bank robbery division in California, under the command of Ben Harp (John McGinley). He’s partnered up with a bit of a burn-out, Pappas (Gary Busey) who has a really weird idea about a string of robberies that have been plaguing the area by a group of guys dressing as Ex-Presidents…
He thinks they’re surfers.
So, obviously, Johnny has to go undercover, learn how to surf, get into the culture, and make new friends, and hopefully find a clue or two that will lead him to the baddies.
And wouldn’t you know it, the girl he gets to teach him to surf, Tyler (Lori Petty), also happened to be romantically involved with the Zen master of surfing, the guy always looking for the ultimate rush, and has a spiritual connection to the water, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) who is also the lead bank robber in the Ex-Presidents.
So there are bank robberies, surfing, beach football, skydiving, and shootouts.
It’s not much on story, but it does go for that adrenaline rush.
Which of course is why Utah can’t shoot him after a visceral foot chase and instead fires his gun in the air in frustration and anger (which automatically makes me think of Hot Fuzz (which is fine as I know that one is coming up on the list eventually as well)).
Busey’s Pappas is undeniably the film’s comic relief in his Hawaiian shirts, and attitude, but even his character has an edge, and it’s fun to see him kicking ass, especially in the raid sequence, that goes terribly bad, and sees Utah almost losing his face to a lawnmower!!
The aerial work in the film is amazing, and Swayze did a lot of his own skydiving work – which of course lends an incredible reality to the film. It’s moments like that which allow you to buy into the film, despite how outlandish some of the story actually is.
Bigelow who’s gone on to direct The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty (as well as one of my fave vampire movies Near Dark), shows a deft hand for action sequences, making them kinetic pushing you to the edge of your seat with excitment.
When Utah’s cover is blown, there’s an added tension to the film, as Bodhi and Johnny begin a game of cat and mouse, which leads to the spectacular skydiving sequence. From that point on, the film kicks into higher gear, as Utah is forced to join in on their next robbery, in the hopes of freeing a now hostage Tyler.
Bodhi wants out-of-town.
Utah wants to take him down, but wants to save Tyler…
This one is just a fun, no-brainer, all-out action film, that even to this day, is still hugely entertaining, and is an awesome way to spend some time.
What do you think of it?