Released: July 12, 1991
Watched: February 22, 2021
I finally have context for the Point Break reference in Hot Fuzz.
And now I want to rewatch Hot Fuzz.
One part surf/beach party movie. One part buddy-cop flick. One part extreme adrenaline rush. A dash of romance. A peppering of bank heist. 100%
homoeroticism bromance Foe-Yay Shipping homoeroticism. (Go ahead. Convince me that Johnny Utah and Bodhi aren’t great porn star names.)
Somehow, against all logic, Point Break works.
Somehow, against all logic, even the formula works.
Because The Fast and The Furious is essentially Point Break‘s younger brother with cars.
A lot of credit has to go to Kathryn Bigelow, Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze for making the movie work so well.
Is this Reeves’ first action movie? IMDB indicates that his earlier film roles was basically Bill & Ted, other comedies, and period-dramas. Almost feels like without Point Break, we wouldn’t have Reeves in Speed, The Matrix, or John Wick. So props to the casting director. Reeves sells an corn-fed, doe-eyed good-natured midwestern good boy energy with an barely suppressed rebellious streak that peeks out as he starts surfing.
Patrick Swayze. Not my usual celebrity crush choice, but I was totally swooning over his charisma. It is not hard to see why he was popular back in the day. It’s been a while since I’ve watched Roadhouse, but Bodhi feels like Dalton’s evil twin. Charismatic, philosophical, badass.
Bigelow’s directing balances the action with character driven moments, and the mish-mash of different styles help keep the movie moving along without feeling bloated or dragging; impressive feat considering that the movie’s runtime is a beefy 2-hours.
The action sequences are solid; I particularly enjoyed the midpoint foot chase and the two skydiving sequences in the second half of the movie. I appreciate a well-executed action sequences; the camera isn’t shaky and the action is fast-paced, but not too frenetic that it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening, with just enough ridiculousness to make it fun without losing believability. The skydiving was gorgeous to watch. Is it even possible to hold a conversation while falling through the air?
Action movies tend to be overladen with testosterone anyways, but Bigelow’s directing combined with Reeves/Swayze’s chemistry takes that male energy and makes it…. romantically tinged.
Yes, there’s a chance I’m just projecting.
And yet…. some choices feel deliberately chosen to push the limits of subtext.
Reeves’s doe-eyed look and Swayze’s easy-going swagger go a long way in making audience believe that Johnny Utah could really be seduced by Bodhi’s bohemian surfer life and be torn about shooting his
male-crush friend. Hell, even his partner calls him out on it.
Better people than I could write theses detailing how Utah’s shooting-in-the-air reaction is an expression of his repressed gay sexual desire (Arms erected straight up in the air. Cry of frustration. Shooting loads…..)
As Johnny Utah tries to build a relationship with Tyler (an interesting choice for a woman’s name), he is drawn to Bodhi’s zest for life, eagerly joins in his antics, and dwells on him late at night in bed. (Okay, he’s thinking about the robbers, but still…)
Lots of delicious tongue-in-cheek innuendo flying back and forth.
Sure — this could all just be projection, but there are some shot choices that feel deliberately chosen to subconsciously reinforce this narrative. Case in point: Both characters are introduced in separate water scenes (Utah doing a FBI exam in the rain, Bodhi surfing) that define their characters; Rain (romantic and renewal) symbolizes Utah’s fledging FBI career after his career-ending football injury. Ocean waves symbolizes Bodhi’s force-of-nature personality as he draws people into his rip current. As their fates become intertwined over the course of the film, their last scene literally is a clash of rain and ocean. Utah finally catches up with Bodhi, but a spark of romanticism inspires him to let him go for one last surf. As Bodhi surfs to his death, Utah is forever changed, walking away from other officers and throwing away his FBI badge.
Great article examining other examples of homoerotic subtext in Point Break that I overlooked: http://reel3.com/point-heart-break-or-why-bodhi-and-johnny-utah-just-want-to-bang-each-other/