What is your breaking point? Could you hang ten, rob banks, outwit the western seaboard FBI and throw a kickass beach party, all in the same day? The forces of chaos, anti-establishment and nostril-flaring ferocity can – and do on a regular (summer) basis, as Point Break showed us. While the lure of the dark tide might sound tempting, there are also the forces of justice, honor and college football.
In today’s selection, they are incarnate in the characters of Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) and whatever Gary Busey’s characters was named (like all legends, Gary functions as the wise old sage, offsetting Johnny’s youthful hubris (a position we know Busey embodies in the real world). While it may seem a tough choice initially, let us see where the mystique of Point Break takes us in our quest towards Great Metaphysical Principles.
My exquisite $1.00 Collector’s Edition DVD even features a beautiful home screen image of our archetypal forces as gayly melded to one another – giant gay surf gods. We almost feel as if surfing the ‘cowabunga’ at this pleasant locale would make us a mystical partakers of the floating bust-spirits of these sea sirens.
Gary Busey as ‘Butthorn” – star of Bulletproof.
There are so many aspects to Point Break that are both bizarre and hilarious at once, writing this analysis is somewhat difficult. Do you deconstruct the erudite dialogue thespianly delivered by Gary Busey, such as “I’m so hungry I could eat the ass-end out of a sea rhino,” or do you analyze the deeply esoteric arcana of “surfing is the Source” (of all life and the Platonic One)? The beauty, of course, with a JaysAnalysis analysis is that you will get both – like Keanu bringing Gary two meatball sandwiches for the price of one. That’s TWO ESOTERIC MEATBALL SANDWICHES – don’t forget, Johnny.
As absurd as the film is, there are a couple relevant cultural artifacts somewhat relevant, as we may be tempted to dissolve into the Nirvana of acid washed fanny packs and Spandex tights. Though we may feel one with our fanny pack and spandex tights, they are in fact distinct objects we must separate from our analysis to penetrate the essence of this tale. The first of which is the CSI-aspect of the film, pre-CSI. Crime dramas in the later 90s and early 2000s would take on the scientific obsession with the myriad of “CSIs” in every conceivable metropolis.
This was all preceded by 1991’s Point Break, where a supposedly brilliant “hot shot” Johnny Utah, with his perfect FBI training scores, is laughably ignorant of surf wax (which he mistakes for a sex novelty. After a riveting exchange between the wise old Pappas (Busey) and the budding Utah, we the tortured audience are finally able to rest from the anticipation of Utah coming to grips with “Sex Wax.” Like Utah, the FBI was just beginning to figure out DNA in the CSI lab.
The culturally interesting aspect of these scenes revolves around the FBI’s DNA approach to pegging the elusive surf-terrorists. As with many breaking Hollywood trends, this could have something to do with James Cameron being the film’s executive producer, while his then wife, Kathryn Bigelow was seeking expand her resume to directing. The strategy worked well, as a couple decades later Bigelow would end up directing some of the CIA’s biggest blockbusters like Zero Dark Thirty.Hilariously, the LA areas is said to have “1,322 bank robberies that year,” most of which are unsolved due to the genius of the Ex Presidents – the virtual secret society of anarcho-Zen Buddhist terror surfers, ruled by their wild man alpha, “Bodhi” – the Bodhisattva (Patrick Swayze). So, by my majestic maths, that comes to about 4 bank robberies per day – in one city! While many may think this exaggeration humorous, the absurdity of this number doesn’t even make sense in Hollywood movie world. While the Ex Presidents had apparently honed their professional pilfering to under 60 seconds, that still requires a hella robbing schedule – and all during the summer months, at that!
These ideas are humorous, but what the film suggests is the overwhelming presence of criminals – everywhere! Over a thousand bank robberies in one year, just in L.A. Given the apparent infinity of crimes, the only solution must be gigantic, bloated policing bureaucracies, right? Point Break thus stand out in a long line of crime dramas that have long hyped the vast over-estimation of these kinds of (highly rare) crimes. In fact, in my entire life I can only recall two news tales of bank robberies. In this regard, we are witnessing the rise of the scientific cop/agency drama that will genetically spawn a host of genetically-obsessed crime “lab” hype – an extension of the FBI “profiling units” that were based on the so-called “serial killer” outbreak, post-Manson. And, interestingly, Bodhi has a mild Manson-esque quality about him, as a surfer-cult-leader-terrorist. It’s also entirely possible the FBI has at some point spied on and infiltrated surf groups, given the history of Cointelpro style operations.
Another seminal trend in Point Break is the promotion of X-Treme sports. Before ESPN 2, 3, 4, and 10 existed showcasing (often foolish) “extreme” sports, Point Break was describing the “extreme lifestyle of adrenaline junkies,” which includes not only surfing, but also skydiving, drugs, bank robberies and kidnapping. Now, I am well aware there were guys doing “extreme sports” prior to Point Break, but Point Break is a Hollywood blockbuster about extreme sports – and probably the first (I can think of). In like manner, James Cameron also birthed the first Arab terror blockbuster and predecessor to the “War on Terror” in 1994’s equally absurd True Lies.On top of all this madness, Point Break doesn’t let up, introducing rival Nazi surfer gangs – yes, Nazi surfers – that also possess small army level caches of machine guns, trafficking in meth. The meth aspect is interestingly, as crystal meth was not yet a deadly, nation-wide trend. California is the pioneering test tube for the rest of the U.S., of course, so we can presume this was also intentionally included – even intimating it’s those pesky white trash redneck Nazi surfers who will be given meth. Crack worked well for the ghetto, but meth for the rural whites – all according to CIA aid and support. The film also teaches us Nazis pour beer on their Cheerios and Anthony Keidis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers is not proficient with high powered artillery. The film also has a few more lessons, such as never choose Gary Busey as a handler. Not only are his “teeth” actual calcified cocaine bricks, he is a spectacular failure as a handler in the film. Pappas is not only fat and lazy (something his boss said was not allowed), he laughingly kills the wrong suspect, wrecks the chase car while downing two meatball sandwiches, decks his boss, and gives his life for really no discernible motive. Directly assaulting an FBI regional director most likely ends in termination, if not jail time – I’m assuming. Pappas, however, is almost as much an irrational force of nature as Bodhi, but a far more pathetic, boomer version. If the FBI consulted on this film, one wonders why they didn’t just bust Gary Busey for a likely large haul. Another interesting angle is the the anarchs-syndicalist nature of the Bodhi cult, which almost seduces Johnny to the dark tide of the force. Emblematic of nature and the forces of nature, Bodhi consistently tries to proselytize Utah into joining the “tribe.” He even gifts Utah a tribal female, the Tank Girl herself, Lori Petty. These tantalizing blandishments and rebel philosophies almost seduce Mr. Law and Order Civililzation Utah, until the end, when we learn Utah has converted and will indeed come in the spirit and power of Bodhi (as he casts away his FBI badge).
One wonders if perhaps Utah might start his own future Keanu Kult – which brings to mind another hidden egg in the dialogue, where Utah explains Bodhi’s daily routine involves “going to Patrick’s Roadhouse.” A subtle nod to Patrick Swayze’s role as the NYU PhD in philosophy who balances the force by bouncing random, shitty bars throughout the South. May we even speculate the once deadly throat-ripping Dalton is, in fact, the psychotic surf terrorist “Bodhi”?
Regardless, Bodhi’s cult is surprisingly aware of the fraudulent fiat money system, the trap of consumerism and committed to living off the grid. One wonders if that wasn’t the reason for the inclusion of this aspect of their beliefs – the real “terrorists” are thereby portrayed as the ones awake to the system’s lies. While it might be tempting to take that easy, conspiratorial approach, it does conflict with the film’s closing Utah establishment apostasy.As for the Nazi surfers, just know they are the rivals of the Bodhi’s Anarcho-Zen terrorists, who both fight the Soviet Surfers, and who in turn all simultaneously battle the Wig Surfers, the Al Qaeda and ISIS Surfers, etc – welcome to the highly politicized world of surfing. Don’t even get me started on the radical ideologies that proliferate the world of ice-disc shoving or bobbing (see Cool Runnings for proof of this, skeptics)! The real question is, what were the other suggestions batted around for this amazing film? The Skateboarding Pilchers? The Rollerblading Embezzlers? The Hang-gliding Human Traffickers? The Volleyball Forgers? Or my personal favorite, The Equestrian Car-Jackers?
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JaysAnalysis has grown to become one of the premier film and philosophy sites on the net, showcasing the talents of Jay Dyer, whose graduate work focused on the interplay of film, geopolitics, espionage and psychological warfare. Jay is a public speaker, lecturer, comedian and author of the popular title Esoteric Hollywood: Sex, Cults and Symbols in Film, which made it to Amazon’s No. 1 spot in its first month of release in the Film and Hollywood Category:
Known for his in-depth commentary, satire and celebrity impressions, Jay is the host of the JaysAnalysis Podcast and Esoteric Hollywood. He is also a regular contributor to 21stCenturyWire, Soul of the East and the Espionage History Archive, as well as appearing on numerous nationally syndicated radio shows, such as Ground Zero and Coast to Coast AM, as well as TV shows like Buzzsaw with Sean Stone.
Broaching subjects as wide as satire, metaphysics, film analysis, theology, geopolitics, literature and history, as well as interviewing numerous prominent figures, Jay is academically published in peer review and has authored hundreds of articles already read by millions in just the past few years. Jay Dyer has also co-created, written, and co-starred with Jay Weidner in a new television series titled Hollywood Decoded for Gaia based on his unique approach to film.