It’s tricky to find films that my fifteen-year-old son will want to watch with his forty-something parents, but this seemed to sit in the sweet spot — surfing, armed robbers, a cocky young hero, skydiving, a love interest and lots of banter. I wanted to see how the film stood up twenty-five years after the only time I saw it, on it’s release. I remembered Patrick Swayze’s charisma and the adrenaline rush of the action sequences, but beyond that it was pretty vague. Intriguingly, it also had the highest rating on iTunes I had ever seen, 4.9/5 with 74 reviews. That impressed me.
Johnny Utah wants to make his mark at the FBI and take down a crew of surfer armed robbers. He is attracted to the crew’s leader, Bhodi, who lets him in to his surfer gang and shows him the spiritual side of being a surfer. But Bhodi’s greed and Utah’s ambition put everyone in danger.
Utah becomes Bhodi, absorbing him, integrating his own shadow, in Jungian terms. We project what we unconsciously desire or fear and, if we do the work, we can claim those things in ourselves consciously, and take back our projections from the other person.
The film is fast-paced, the dialogue cheesily involving, and the main characters substantial enough. Bigelow’s camera loves the ocean, making the surf and surfers seem as mystical as the characters believe they are. It’s all very light. My son was impressed. Now I have to convince him to watch Robocop.