“Utah! Get me two!”

When I got into high school, my friends started to have an influence on the different types of movies I’d be exposed to. I remember my friends telling me about this movie.

I’d seen trailers for it and didn’t have that much interest.  I recall it had Johnny Castle and Ted Logan in it and a few other people I’d seen, but they were not big enough to put my butt in a seat at the theater.

Then one day, my friend started talking to me about it at school and I was intrigued.

“The old guy in it is hilarious; he punches his boss in the face.”

Sold!

I was 14…and easily amused…I miss that sometimes.

So I rented “Point Break” and watched it with Dad (of course).  We loved it and made it a part of our VHS collection the following year.

I wasn’t new to the whole undercover cop idea; but there was something different about this one.  Most undercover cop movies use the “danger element” as a device to keep the tension at the surface.  This movie wants the viewer to meet the villains at their level.

Take Bodhi.

bodhi.jpg

Surfing is his religion, with a chaser of adrenaline rushes like tackle football on the beach, and skydiving.  He seems like a good Samaritan at first as he welcomes Johnny Utah into his beach bum family, but like all great villains, he soon bears his teeth without mercy.

johnny utah

I always felt that Reeves was born for this role.  When we first meet him, he’s a square.  He “takes the skin off the chicken,” he wears suits to work, and he wants to follow the rule book.  Enter one of my all time favorite mentors from the movies: Pappas.

pappas

I’ve written about Gary Busey in my “Lethal Weapon” post.  I stand by his very underrated talent to this day.  I know that awards for art are bullshit and set themselves up for failure trying to pick winners and losers.  They always pick the wrong ones it seems like.  Busey deserved an academy award nomination for his portrayal.  Like Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Charlie Wilson’s War,” every moment he is on screen is electric. Pappas doesn’t present well as a special agent for the Bureau, but what he doesn’t have in physical attributes, he more than makes up with his moneymaker in his brain case.  He takes on the rearing of Johnny Utah, selflessly, and helps him become a great agent in a very short amount of time by embracing his youth.  

Under the tutelage of Pappas, Utah is able to move from square to surfer dude and well on his way into Bodhi’s crew.   

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of tension.  When Utah almost gets his face eaten off by a lawn mower, you start to suffocate and smell burnt grass alongside him.

There were a lot of “unexpecteds” I found.  Many things you might find have ended up becoming cliches after this movie; but when this was released, it was fresh.  There is definitely sympathy for Bodhi, devil as he might be.  There are thrills, bouts of intense action, humorous moments, and tragedy as well.

I remember feeling a sense of many different movies in one movie, especially when Utah chases Bodhi through a neighborhood on foot.  You have the bank robberies, the skydiving, the unlikely damsel in distress, and the surfing.  The first time that Bodhi puts on the ex-president mask and does his deed, he’s a completely different person that the audience is not ready for.  It’s as if we were lulled into getting to know, understand, and enjoy his company, and the rug is pulled out from under us while we’re on our way to sit down anyway.

In the end we’re left to choose…but we still don’t know which one is the “right” choice.  Why is the FBI agent better than the renegade?  He’s conflicted about the renegade himself…why shouldn’t we be…?

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15 thoughts on ““Utah! Get me two!”

      1. See that’s the thing about Reeves. The first thing I saw him in was River’s Edge and I liked it and him. There were some movies that I found no strength in his acting ( Johnny Mnemonic ) but other’s that no other person could do as well.

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  1. I’m afraid I’m one of the people who doesn’t like Reeves very much (or Swayze for that matter), although both can be good in some things (Reeves can be terribly wooden at times so he needs to choose carefully, but I’ve become less extreme in my dislikes with time. Not sure if I’m going soft in old age or we’re all getting better…). I remember the contrast between him and River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho and some interesting discussion when we watched it in university. But I haven’t watched this movie in years and I like the director, so perhaps it’s time for a revisit.

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    1. I understand that Reeves is an acquired taste. I just remember truly loving this movie for it freshness and the unexpected choices that the characters make. If you do revisit, let me know what you think.

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  2. Man…this is one of my ALL TIME favorite movies! To this day, I will click over to this movie every single time. Your summation nailed it too! It was almost like watching it all over again in my mind.

    Both of these actors (Reeves and Busey) are two of my favorites as well, probably steming from this movie. Swayze I have always felt was overrated while Reeves and Busey highly underrated (just an opinion).

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reeves is so great because he’s Canadian 😉 Hahaha, Had to give that shout out! Loved this movie from beginning to end, and I agree totally about Busey! I have always liked his acting, and I find it sad, for all of the hours he has entertained us how people simply dropped him because of a head injury. Maybe its just me, but I find myself defending his character to others when they start bashing his acting abilities. ‘How about before the head injury how about when he did Under Siege, or Buddy Holly, no one else could of portrayed that part better! He was in over a hundred movies, and each one I found he brought the -character- to the part that no else could have pulled off. Great write up Clint!

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