A timeless bromance revisited
By Sean P. Mulhall
Saturday was my 29th birthday and the fall semester starts today, but I don’t feel like writing about aging or higher education, at least not yet.
Today, I am officially coming out of the closet and letting the world know of my love for the film Point Break.
For years, I’ve been saying the surfing/bank robbing movie starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves “might be my favorite” or “is in my top ten,” but after watching it the other day, for the ump-teenth time, I’ve finally decided to place Point Break at the very top of my top ten.
While there may be other films that are better, like Citizen Kane or Vertigo, Point Break is just as important as T2: Judgement Day in influencing the action genre over the last 25 years.
Kathryn Bigelow is most well known for her 2009 film, The Hurt Locker, about an bomb squad unit in Iraq, starring Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie and for her follow up film in 2012, Zero Dark Thirty, about the hunt for Osama bin Ladin, starring Jessica Chastain. Both films are incredible and The Hurt Locker won Best Picture at the Academy Awards, with Bigelow taking home Best Director that night, the first for a woman.
20 years before she would receive the well deserved acclaim for her commentary on the wars in the Middle East, and step out of the shadow of her marriage and divorce with James Cameron, she was directing two stars, leading an all star cast, in Point Break. One was in the prime of his career and the other was about to take over as one of the biggest action stars of the 90s.
Swayze plays Bodhi, a zen surf master who robs banks to fund his endless summer in search of the perfect wave. He and his crew are referred to as the Ex-Presidents by the FBI, because of the masks they wear when pulling a heist. Nixon, Carter, LBJ and Reagan.
Enter Johnny Utah, played by Reeves, a former college quarterback turned FBI recruit, fresh out of the academy. He’s teamed with Gary Busey’s Angello, a grisled vet, who was taking shrapnel in Vietnam while Utah was, “crapping in his hands and rubbing it on his face.” The odd couple partners get right to investigating the toughest case in the LA bank robbery division: the Ex Presidents.
To say anymore would spoil the story for anyone reading this, who hasn’t already seen it. But I honestly think the more times I watch it, the more I like it. Similar to a fine bottle of wine, Point Break gets better with time.
Swayze had ruled the 80s with films like Dirty Dancing, Ghost and most importantly; Roadhouse. He was riding a high cresting wave into the 90s. Chasing him on the very next wave was Reeves, who had at least one of Bill and Ted’s adventures under his belt and would go on to star in Speed and the Matrix later in the 90s, making for one of the most solid action resumes of the decade. Only Tom Cruise or Arnold Schwarzenegger have more great action films in a single decade.
I could ramble on and on about what makes this film great from the beautiful surfing action shots to the beautiful, bizarre, quasi-homoerotic relationship between the two leads, but the chase scene alone is all I need. It is not only the best chase scene ever, but also one of my favorite scenes from any movie. Ever.
I’m not going to go into the remake much, mostly because it was a travesty that they decided to revisit such a perfect film in the first place, so much so that I refuse to watch it. At the same time, it is a testament to the quality of the original when Hollywood decides to remake a classic.
Do yourself a favor and watch Point Break for the first time or the tenth or hundredth. The writing, directing, acting, cinematography and soundtrack are all top notch.
I leave you with a late friend of mine’s last Facebook post, days before he passed last year, classic Scotty: