Tuesday, September 15, 2009

R.I.P Patrick Swayze and Why I Love Point Break

It's never good when people just a little bit older than yourself are passing away. And of course, it's not good at all when you or a loved one or friend is the one passing away.

I never met Patrick, but always could sort of identify with him. Not personally, but as a Houston boy like Patrick, I've known a lot of people who reminded me of him. Or vice versa. His bravery surrounding his death is admirable and yet so sad, for he obviously wanted so much to live.

I loved the movie Red Dawn. At the time, and even now (I bought it recently on the $5 pile at the store), it's still a good movie. If you watch it with younger folks, you kinda have to explain the cold war thing but with all of the warring we've been doing for most of the last decade, young folks understand war all too well.

As the stereotypical male action movie watcher, I fit right in the demographic for movies like Red Dawn. Yeah, I saw Dirty Dancing and Ghost too, and they were great movies, but not enough gunplay for entertaining the El Fisho. Roadhouse, of course, didn't have much if any gunplay but had plenty of high drama and action to satisfy the action movie fan. It even had romance and mystery, although I don't think Mrs. El Fisho considers it to be a chick flick in the least.

In any event, I became crestfallen, I say crestfallen this morning when reading one of the articles on various newspaper websites that said that the movie Point Break was a failure and a sign that Swayze's career was waning.

Well, knock me over with a feather. I'm no movie maven like my friend R.J. and I don't know all kinds of trivia and facts and figures like he does but I know what I like. R.J. can tell you how this story has been told in other movies and make all sorts of analogies and highly intelligent observations about all kinds of interactions and repeats in storylines. All I can tell you is if I like it. Sometimes I can even break down why I liked a movie, usually for very simple reasons.

Like Point Break. It was a little farsical in the FBI department, and Keanu and Busey weren't the best actual representation of how the FBI might run an undercover operation (hint: don't go to HQ, don't go on raids of drug houses and by all means, after the bad guy finds out you are FBI, don't go back into the fold of criminals and pretend you're not).

I thought it was one of Swayze's finest roles. I know he did some if not all of his own surfing in the flick, and I'm sure he did many of the other stunts, maybe even the harrowing sky diving scene. He was athletic as hell and often injured himself doing his own stunts.

Swayze was great in the bank robber mode and fantastic in the juiced-up surf guru action junkie mode of Bodhi. Of course, he's a bit over the top with all of his philosophizing, but the night surfing scenes were well shot as were all of the surfing scenes and they were cool as hell.

I wish I could have done the rewrite on that screenplay. I wouldn't have had Johnny Utah mingling with the folks at FBI HQ. Utah would have been absolutely undercover. No going on raids, no public meets with his backup team, a full cover including apartment and some kind of token job at some law firm.

Likewise, once Busey's character Angelo Pappas and Utah chase the bank robbers in their masks, Utah's cover is blown. Bodhi would have had no choice but to kill Utah if he reappeared. Of course, love is to blame in the movie, as Lori Petty's character Tyler is the downfall of Utah. At his point, R.J. would insert several movie references about similar relationships both in real history and in past cinema. I'm not that smart. Maybe he'll comment and give me an enlightenment. Seriously, that dude is smart.

The movie ends with Utah casting his badge into the ocean, just like Dirty Harry did. Unbelieveably, although Utah has chased Bodhi literally half way across the world, he lets him slip from his grasp to go surf "the big one". Surely, Utah had some 'splaining to do to the local Aussie constabulary over that one.

Who's to know that Bodhi didn't get swept under a wave and wash up miles down the shore, barely clinging to life, but unseen by law enforcement. Crawling into the jungle, he starts a new life as a dead man on the run while Utah starts his new life surfing the breaks. We are left with unfinished business in the movie as written, but how cool would it have been for a sequel where, nearly 20 years later, Bodhi and Utah cross paths again. For any number of reasons and with all kinds of mayhem. But alas, that is not to be.

SO, I was disheartened to learn that apparently nobody but me liked this flick. I watched it *many times* when it was out on video and on cable back in the day. It's not perfect, but it's a dang good movie.

As a final praise of this fine movie, it was an excellent grouping of a diverse group of actors who I thought, and still rightly think, did a fine job acting out their roles. Swayze and his gang of merry followers were totally in character for what you expect of surfing and gun-toting outlaws. Likewise, this might have been Busey's finest role. He and Keanu had a certain chemistry throughout the whole flick that was just magic.

The other actors, from Petty to Tom Sizemore (the frazzled undercover narc) to a guest appearence by Anthony Kiedis, do a convincing job in the movie. If I had to award a top actor award for that movie, it'd be a tie between Busey and Swayze. Clearly, it was Busey's finest moment, in control but out of control at the same time. And as mentioned above, Swayze was just outstanding as the cult of bank robbers leader. It might be the only bad guy role I saw Swayze in, but it was certainly, imho, a stellar moment in his career.

Rest in Peace, Sir.


  1. I loved loved loved "Point Break" - One of the BEST flix ever. Who cares what those critics say? I bought it and have watched is 100's of times. Amazing story, script and F 'em all. Patrick Swayze was EXCEPTIONAL as Bodhi. He rocked and always will.

  2. It was great, wasn't it? That's why I was so shocked to read that the day after Patrict passed on. I'm not the kind of guy that follows the critics and such, so I'd never heard this before. I had always assumed it was a successful movie, both on release and on rental and sales.

    Thanks for stopping by, and let's keep Mr. Swayze's family in our prayers.

    One final word about his death. The day before he died I was at the store and saw these pics of him looking very ill on the cover of the National Enquirer. It said he had left Cedars Sinai Hospital to go home to die. You never know if that stuff is correct, but don't you wish the papps would leave nice folks like Mr. Swayze and his family alone in their final hours.

    I mean, if you were dying of cancer, would you want pics of you a few days before you pass plastered on a national crapzine? Those people have no respect. I'm all for outing the HW crowd on their stunts and mishaps and so on, but come on folks, where's the common decency for a guy like Patrick Swayze and his loved ones?

    Not at National Enquirer, that's for sure. Even TMZ and most of the other star gossip outlets had the self-respect to not run a link to those pics.

    Thanks again for commenting.

  3. Point Break is one of my all times favorites. But I am a surfer with all my heart and soul. Perhaps to fully appreciate this movie one needs to understand the powerful connection with the ocean and waves... I mean that last scene when Utah let's Bodhi go surf " the big one", says it all.

    peace ~