Mike Nelson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 Reviews:

Point Break and Speed

The cheese rolls on

movie poster Now here's MST-3000's Mike Nelson:

Point Break stars the phenomenally below-average Keanu Reeves. Daily, the little twerp pulls truckloads of wool over the fawning eyes of billions of Americans who, after emptying their wallets, give him their cash cards and PIN numbers as well. This is a man you rent skis from, not someone you point a camera at for the purpose of entertaining the masses. At best, he’s a piece of scenery. At worst, he’s not quite as effective as sandbags in your backseat for winter traction.

After viewing Point Break, the film where Patrick Swayze (of Red Dawn) out-acts him!!!, and Speed, where he managed to look more stoned than Dennis Hopper, I propose that we simply put him out to stud.

Point Break, as you’ll recall, is one of the triumvirate of Patrick Swayze vehicles that established him as kind of a smaller, slightly brighter model of Jean-Claude Van Damme. (The others are Next of Kin and Road House. They are best viewed one after the other, with no breaks, in a beery Old Milwaukee haze.) In it, Keanu plays a hot-shot FBI agent who must learn to surf in order to track a group of hotdogging bank robbers who do it for the adrenaline rush. (Presumably Surge was created to quell the swelling rate of “extreme” bank robberies perpetrated by annoying suburban kids in phat pants.)

Keanu Reeves is as convincing as an FBI agent as he would be playing William Howard Taft. In my day, we had Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., as an FBI agent, and we were damn happy for it! Now any Slurpee-guzzling hobbledehoy can don a fake badge and chase after brigands and malefactors!
Reeves always looks out of place when he has to say words, a detriment to an actor, in my opinion. Phrases like “let’s go” and “over here” sound forced and wooden.

He fares only slightly better in Speed, I’m afraid to say, allowing himself to be blown off the screen by Jeff Daniels, Sandra Bullock, and a bus. I think he’d be wise to do summer stock opposite heavy machinery for a couple of years until he gets his sea legs. Perhaps The Odd Couple, starring Reeves and a Caterpillar lift truck. Or Arsenic and Old Lace, with a front-end loader and a late-model Peterbilt.

In Speed, Keanu plays a member of the Los Angeles bomb squad who is forced by an evil madman, Dennis “One-Hitter” Hopper of Waterworld, to drive a bus wired to blow up should its speed fall below fifty miles an hour. Once again, Keanu Reeves — member of the Los Angeles bomb squad!? I wouldn’t trust this man to sell me a stamp. He’s the type of guy who I always get helping me at Radio Shack. He’s the night stock boy at Target.

As bad as he is, Reeves comes out smelling like a rose compared with the scenery-chewing THC receptacle that is Dennis Hopper. His run as the go-to villain in every bad action movie has got to come to an end, even if it means letting Eric Roberts have a turn now and then.

If you haven’t seen Speed yet, don’t. But if you must, I warn you:
It’s one of those movies that tricks you into thinking it’s over long before it actually is. Just when you’re running for the exits, cursing yourself for not having seen Cool Runnings or Beethoven’s 2nd, it starts all over with a newer, stupider plot line! It’s the cinematic equivalent of a 401K meeting that goes right through lunch.

If you’re still having doubts about Reeves’s little joke at our expense, I recommend you rent Dangerous Liaisons (a good movie, save Reeves), A Walk in the Clouds, and Chain Reaction. When you’re done, watch them again, only this time, tape a six-inch piece of two-by-four to your screen and imagine it’s Reeves. I guarantee you’ll prefer the two-by-four every time. I’ve tested it on my friends, and it really works. Enjoy!

Big Wednesday (1978)

What would "Point Break" be like without Keanu Reeves as an FBI agent? The Hollywood Hall of Shame by Harry and Michael Medved says of this one:
The only $11 million surfing picture in Hollywood history, it describes the adventures of three tightly bonded buddies who conduct a tedious search for the perfect wave. The boys finally find enlightenment, along with heavy philosophical lines, such as “You can’t surf forever!” The picture, however, feels as if it can go on forever, under the ham-handed direction of John Milius, who later gave the world Conan the Barbarian. Big Wednesday never succeeded in shooting the glassies and suffered a spectacular wipe out after just one week in most theatres.

© 1984 Harry and Michael Medved. All rights reserved. Website: MichaelMedved.com
Besides, it’s still better than Sphere

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"Speed" availabilty on video and on DVD from Amazon.com

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© 2000 Michael J. Nelson. All rights reserved, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles & reviews. Mike Nelson is no relation to Lloyd Bridges and has never run low on air while hunting around under the sea.