Point Break (1991): One Last Ride #TBT

pointbreak1On Christmas 2015, a crime/action flick called?Point Break?exploded into theaters and … fizzled out. But what younger audiences may not know is that this film about globetrotting thrill seekers who also robbed banks is a remake of one of the best action/buddy films of all time from twenty-five years ago.

Twenty-five years ago, before?The Fast & The Furious?launched a franchise about friendships that crossed the line between the ‘good guys’ and ‘the bad guys’…

Twenty-five years ago, before Keanu Reaves was Neo, Jack Traven, or John Wick…

Twenty-five years ago, before director Kathryn Bigelow divorced her executive producer hubby James Cameron or?helmed?The Hurt Locker?or?Zero Dark Thirty…

Twenty-five years ago, before Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer…

pointbreak2Rather than waste eight bucks on a film getting destroyed by critics, I thought I’d spend a couple of hours revisiting the original. Here,?freshly-minted FBI agent Johnny Utah (Reeves over the likes of Matthew Broderick, Johnny Depp, and Charlie Sheen) arrives in Los Angeles, much to the disappointment of his new boss, Ben Harp (John McGinley), and his new partner, Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey). But Utah buys into Pappas’ theory that a string of twenty-plus bank robberies are the work of a surfing crew, and he goes undercover as a wannabe surfer to infiltrate the gang.

Utah’s entry into the gang is Tyler Endicott (Orange is the New Black’s?Lori Petty), who teaches him how to surf and introduces him to Bodhi (Swayze), whose us-against-the-establishment mentality makes him a charismatic leader for the surfer/robbers who flock to him. Bodhi is the Robin Hood of surfers or something like that, and the wise-cracking Utah is drawn into seeing Bodhi as more than a criminal to be taken down – he begins to see Bodhi as a friend.

But is friendship possible across these lines, even if Bodhi is more a friend to Utah than the guys on his side like Harp or Pappas? What is friendship really supposed to be about? Maybe friendship ends up being about believing in the good in someone, even when no one else does.


Ultimately, there’s some underlying spirituality here thanks to the Bodhi – like Buddha or some new age Morpheus, he’s quick to see that everything is connected but he’s hooked on the thrill of the rush, the high, the next great adrenaline rush. It’s ultimately his downfall, because he’s looking for some feeling that he can’t quite grasp, needing more and more danger to scratch that itch.

Until his itch leads him too deep, right? When the robbers cross the line, and someone dies, that’s when everything starts to unravel for them. It’s when we realize that no matter how ‘good’ someone wants to claim they are, they usually revert to self-serving behavior when things get tough. That’s when Utah’s ‘law’ orientation proves to be the moral compass that holds the world together, not the free-for-all, feel-good oscillation that Bodhi has lived by.

That sense of who he is allows Utah to pursue Bodhi – and to push for the least confrontational end to the conflict. Utah knows that pursuing the rush can’t be all there is, that it can’t be enough. He tries to save Bodhi from his self-destructive behavior, but he’s gone too far and he can’t turn back.

Too often, we pursue the thrills or what feels good because the ‘law’, God’s moral code written on our hearts, seems too constrictive or too hard to live out. We think it’s easier doing what we want, rather than doing what we should. And still, someone shows up, the moral agent of our hearts, whispering, ‘this isn’t the way, turn back, repent.’

For the 1991?Point Break, the rush is extreme – and powerful – but it ultimately proves that there’s more to life than what feels good.




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