Late last night I watched the film "Point Break" in my room at the old frat house. I couldn't stop myself from internally crying out about "What a guy movie this is!" and then wanting to lecture all the guys down the hall about their dangerous levels of testosterone. But eventually I began to calm down and notice things. Ok, so yes this film is a contemporary and somewhat outrageous story about a bunch of surfing bandits robbing banks. And yes, this film is also about the poorly talented Reeves heroically chasing these bad dudes down (always looking hot, duh) while really only wanting to fall in love with the feisty surfing babe Tyler (I know, cute right?)
But here is where some elements of Classic Hollywood Cinema (CHC) as outlined in our readers by Robert Ray come into play: the surfing Ex-Presidents indeed embody classic examples of an outlaw hero. While they may not be a “cowboy or gunslinger,” they are all outlaw heroes juxtaposed against the “official hero” Utah. Reeves also may not be a “politician or family man” but as a FBI agent he does represent the “objective legal process that superseded private notions of right and wrong” (16). After I understood that Bodhi was behind the bank robberies it became harder for me to like his character in the same ways as before. However, I still understood and was in awe of his sense of freedom from “the system”. I couldn’t help but melt just a little while yearning to become a fellow outlaw surfer when Bodhi becomes passionate with his group about how they show the American public that the human spirit is still alive. Even though I believe the group’s way about showing the human spirit to the public is violent and wrong, they do in their own ways speak to the “American imagination valuing self-determination and freedom from entanglements” (16).
What really gets me though is the ending! OF COURSE Reeves gets the girl. Doesn’t Classic Hollywood Cinema tell us that we can have it all? OF COURSE he finally catches up with Bodhi for the final confrontation and resolution between their two characters. OF COURSE Bodhi in the end fails as an outlaw (and as participant of society for that matter). Utah throws his badge into the ocean at the end of the film in a moment of self-realization symbolizing his final separation from the story and its past. Everything pretty much wraps up hunky-dory. Why? The answer is simple. Hollywood was just doing what it does best: fulfilling “its self-appointed role as public comforter” (14).