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.”
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.
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.
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.
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…?