The time has come to finally answer the question that has haunted our society (especially Spike TV viewers since the network was born in August of 2003). While it is not an easy question to answer, I will attempt to break it down thoroughly and objectively, hopefully removing an predetermined bias I might have lodged in my subconscious.
The question is: What is Patrick Swayze's best role, Bodhi in Point Break or Dalton in Road House?
Now, before I get into the breakdown, let me explain why these are the only two on the list. These are the only two characters he played that are both completely over the top and spectacularly amazing. You could make an argument about Jed in Red Dawn, but his character wasn't that ridiculous. The premise of the movie was ridiculous, but all-in-all Jed was pretty normal. If you just thought to yourself, "What about Ghost and Dirty Dancing?" Stop reading right now, walk outside, find the nearest bridge, and jump off.
The two roles will be broken down into seven categories and a point will be given to the winner of each category. Let's begin.
First, you have Bodhi. A near perfect name for a surfer, then you throw in the fact he likes to dabble in philosophy and some sort of mysticism. I'm not sure a more fitting name has ever been given to a character. I'd like to think there's a colony of surfers somewhere who are all named Bodhi.
Second, Dalton. A true red-blooded American name. Tough and mean when he has to be. I think some shoe company should launch a brand of boots called Daltons. And they'd probably need to be steel-toed boots. I'd love to be able to say, "I saw a guy in a pair of Daltons kick the holy crap out of this other dude." However, as much as I love the name Dalton, I can't go against Bodhi.
More Ridiculous Character
First, Bodhi the surfer who also robs banks while wearing a mask of an ex-president. And he's apparently good enough at robbing banks that he's wanted by the FBI so badly they send in an undercover agent to bring him to justice, but only finally do so in AUSTRALIA because he's there to surf waves created by a 100 year storm. I know, take a minute and let that sink in.
Second, Dalton the cooler who's known throughout the Midwest and South for his ability to clean up troublesome drinking establishments and was probably the Curt Flood of coolers in America. Do you realize Dalton left Memphis for Jasper, Missouri and a bar located in a gravel parking lot next to an old man's auto parts store? I know the money was better but is that really a vertical career move? And let's not ignore the fact he's a cooler who makes an attempt to be nice. I'm quite certain that's completely insane.
This one is unbelievably close and I went back and forth on it several times. In the end, the combination of surfer, bank robber, philosopher, and avid skydiver is too much.
Bodhi had his gang of surfers that followed him and bought into his beliefs. Now that I think about it, he actually had his own cult. But no one in this group really stood out. You could argue Johnny Utah was a sidekick but not for the entire movie. If you had to name a sidekick, it would be Rosie, the guy who kidnapped Tyler and was going to kill her had Bodhi not arrived in Mexico with the money they stole.
Dalton had the grizzled Wade Garrett, perfectly played by Sam Elliott. Elliott probably spent a year smoking eight packs of cigarettes a day and drinking enough liquor to float a battleship (to steal a line from Lynyrd Skynyrd) in preparation for this role. Not only is he Dalton's sidekick, he's also his mentor. It's his death that finally sends Dalton over the edge and leads to the demise of Brad Wesley. By the way, the dance scene with Garrett and Dalton's lady friend has to be one of the creepiest moments in movie history.
This one's not even close. Wade Garrett would have brought all of Bodhi's cult to justice in about 12 minutes. And his death was so much more dramatic that Rosie's. He literally died ON THE BAR. Rosie's death was only noted in passing by Agent Utah at the end of the movie.
Better Leading Lady
Bodhi had Tyler before the movie begins, but once Johnny Utah moved in, she was gone. Tyler always reminded me of Demi Moore in Ghost, which I've already established is not a good thing. I'd like to think in the deleted scenes Bodhi rebounded well and found himself another lady.
As you know, Dalton had Doctor Elizabeth Clay who for some inexplicable reason is living in Jasper, Missouri. Whatever the reason, it worked out well for Dalton. She does lose points for getting upset when Dalton rips the guy's throat out near the end of the movie. HE JUST BLEW UP AN OLD MAN'S HOUSE!!!! He also deserved to die for wearing the dreaded denim on denim outfit. But in the end, not even close.
1. Bodhi: (After helping Utah fight off the two guys that jumped him on the beach) They're punks. Nazis. Their brains are wired wrong. They hurt surfing because they give nothing back, and they have no respect for the sea. They just want to get radical. It's mindless aggression. They'll never get it, the spiritual side of it.
2. Utah: Don't you gamble?
Bodhi: Only make bets I can't afford to lose. Only way to be 100% committed.
3. Bodhi: Not tragic to die doing what you love. You want the ultimate thrill, you gotta be willing to pay the ultimate price.
4. Bodhi: It's basic dog psychology, brah. If you scare them, get them pissing down their leg, they submit...you control them. If you project weakness, you draw aggression...that's how people get hurt. Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation will cause your worst fears to come true. You project strength to avoid conflict.
5. Bodhi: Time to dance with the universe.
Wow. He's pretty close to putting on the black Nike high-tops and waiting for the spaceship behind Halley's Comet to arrive. Now for some Dalton....
1. Dalton: Pain don't hurt.
2. Dalton: Nobody ever wins a fight.
3. Doctor: Do you always carry your medical record around with you?
Dalton: Saves time.
4. Dalton: Take the biggest guy in the world, shatter his knee and he'll drop like a stone.
5. Dalton: I want you to be nice until it's time not to be nice.
As much as I love Dalton's bluntness, it's really hard to top Bodhi's incoherent rambling. "Time to dance with the universe." What the hell does that mean?
Bodhi had to match wits against Johnny Utah and Gary Busey, a formidable duo. Busey gave us such great lines as "Utah, make it two!", which is incredibly fun to say in bars today, and Busey kept Utah from going to jail even though he just helped Bodhi and company rob a bank. It was unfortunate when Busey got cut in half by the shotgun blast at the airport, but he did get Utah there in time to make the plane to Mexico. Look, anytime a meatball sub loving, washed-up agent in Gary Busey is on your tail, you're screwed.
Dalton had to go against Brad Wesley and the denim dude who said, "I used to $%#& guys like you in prison" (Which, to this day, is one of the most awkward moments in the history of film). It was rough for Dalton because Wesley was pretty much the dictator of Jasper. He destroyed some guy's car dealership, blew up an old man's house, and blew up another old man's auto parts store. And no one in Jasper thought to complain to someone in the state government? Or the FBI? If the FBI was willing to send an agent to Australia to track down a surfer/bank robber, I think they would have been okay with looking into corruption in Jasper, Missouri.
As much as I enjoyed the Brad Wesley reign of terror, I'll never be able to go against Gary Busey in anything. The man is a total lunatic. For all we know, Busey probably thought he was Agent Pappas until someone told him he really wasn't in the FBI and his name was not Pappas.
Best Resolution of Conflict
Bodhi tried to escape to Mexico while using Tyler as ransom to keep Johnny Utah at bay. Of course, he's eventually hunted down but he at least forced Utah to jump out of a plane WITH NO PARACHUTE in an attempt to stop him. In the process, everyone in his cult was killed. Not a good ending for our philosopher surfer.
On the other hand, Dalton RIPPED A HUMAN BEING'S THROAT OUT with his bare hands. But he didn't stop there. In storming Wesley's compound, he sent his driverless Mercedes sailing into Wesley's fat, greasy mercenaries as a diversion while he stormed inside. I always hoped he would rip Wesley's throat out too, but unfortunately he went soft and didn't do it. Damn you Dr. Clay, damn you!!! Of course, Wesley did die at the hands of townspeople (who conveniently elect murder over government prosecution).
So there it is. Patrick Swayze's best role was Bodhi in Point Break. Now our minds can be at ease, sleep can come easier, and souls can be refreshed.