So this is an interesting movie for me to watch today. See, back in the days of VHS, I had this movie on VHS but I never got around to upgrading it to DVD. Then my friend Emily, who loves buying me movies she thinks I should own, such as Center Stage and Clueless, decided to buy this for me. Now I have no problem accepting this gift because I did enjoy this movie so let’s have some fun in the surf with today’s movie, Point Break (1991).
The plot: Rookie FBI Agent Johnny Utah has just been assigned to the L.A. branch’s Bank Robbery Division and partnered with Angelo Pappas, a 22 year veteran of the force. Angelo is trying to arrest a gang known as The Ex-Presidents, four men that rob banks wearing masks of Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Jimmy Carter, only rob the cash drawers, and are in and out in 90 seconds. After checking out the scene of their latest robbery and drop car, Johnny convinces Angelo to tell him his theory on the gang and Angelo tells him he thinks they are surfers. After explaining his reasoning and the gang’s pattern, and with only one month left before they disappear until next summer, Johnny goes with Angelo and buys a surfboard to use as an undercover ploy. When Johnny wants to just walk around with it and asks questions, Angelo tells him that the surfers in the area are like their own tribe, with their own lingo and culture, so he has to get out there and interact with them. When Johnny tries to surf for the first time, he wipes out and almost drowns but he is saved by a female surfer, who helps him to the beach before yelling at him for being out there. Johnny gets the woman’s license plate and uses the FBI computers to learn her name, Tyler Endicott, and her background in order to figure out a way to approach her, figuring she would be his best bet to get accepted among the local surfers. Heading to where Tyler works, he manages to convince her to teach him how to surf, playing off the fact that her parents had died in a plane crash by saying his had died in a car crash. Tyler begins teaching Johnny how to surf and after several attempts, Johnny finally learns how to surf and makes it out on the waves. As they are walking back, Johnny sees another surfer out in the water and Tyler says that it is Bodhi. As Johnny and Tyler continue hanging out on the beach, they join in on a football game with Bodhi and his friends, Roach, Grommet and Nathaniel. When Johnny chases down and tackles Bodhi into the surf, the other guys get upset but Bodhi tells them to relax, as he recognizes Johnny as a former Ohio State quarterback. Johnny and Angelo’s superior, Ben Harp, is upset over the lack of progress they have shown, as the Ex-President’s have managed to rob another bank. One of the security guards had managed to grab some hairs from the pony tail of one of the robbers and Johnny tells Angelo that surfers are territorial. The two go out to some of the different beaches and get some hair samples from different people and manage to narrow down the beach that they robbers were last at. Johnny heads out there to surf and runs into a neo-nazo surfer named Bunker, who punches Johnny and later attacks him with 3 of his friends. Bodhi helps Johnny deal with them and as they are leaving, he invites Johnny to a party at his house. Angelo and Johnny follow Bunker and his gang back to their house, getting their criminal history in the process and stake them out all night, waiting for a warrant so they can raid the place in the morning. When they are relieved for the night, Johnny heads to Bodhi’s house with Tyler and as the party progresses, they end up at a bonfire talking about where the biggest waves are and Bodhi says it will be at Bells Beach in Australia next year, as he believes that the 50 year storm will hit that year. After the group go surfing at night, Johnny and Tyler end up having sex on the beach. The next morning, Johnny wakes up late and has to rush to make it to the raid on Bunker’s house. Johnny is told to stay in the back so he doesn’t blow his cover but while he is looking in through the back window, he sees Bunker’s crew grabbing several weapons. Johnny tries to warn the team not to pull their badges but nobody can hear him over a neighbor running his lawn mower. The raid commences and Bunker and another member of his gang are killed, a third member is injured, and the last member and another man are arrested while one of the FBI agents is injured when a woman stabs him. As Johnny and Angelo discuss the raid, they are interrupted by one of the suspects, who reveals himself to be a deep cover DEA agent that was after the Bunker’s group for drug smuggling and could vouch for the fact that they were not near the scene of the last bank robbery. After getting chewed out by Harp, Johnny heads home but he and Tyler are woken up early by Bodhi for some early morning surfing. As Johnny and Tyler are walking the beach, Johnny notices some of the antics of Bodhi and his gang and realize they are the same as the Ex-Presidents and tells Tyler he has to leave. Johnny ends up following Bodhi during the day and then tells Angelo that he thinks they are going to hit another bank the next day and Angelo agrees to stake it out with him the next day. The two watch the bank with no sign of the crooks at first but when Johnny goes to get some food from a nearby shop, the gang pulls up and heads in the bank. Johnny returns just as they are leaving and Angelo and Johnny chase after the robbers but they end up crashing and Johnny continues on foot. The Ex-President’s car is also damaged and they ditch it and grab another one but while Bodhi is using a gas pump to torch their first car, Johnny tackles him and they begin fighting. The others are forced to drive off when Angelo starts shooting at them and Bodhi makes a run for it with Johnny in pursuit. As they race through the neighborhood, Bodhi hops a fence and slides down a hill, then jumps down into an aquaduct but when Johnny jumps down after him, he aggravates his old football injury and is unable to continue pursuing him. Johnny pulls his gun to shoot Bodhi but after they stare at each other, Johnny fires his gun into the air while Bodhi continues to run away. Back at FBI Headquarters, Angelo chastises Johnny for getting to close to Bodhi and his gang, then sends him home to get cleaned up. Johnny heads home and Tyler tends to his wounds but later that night, she discovers he is an FBI agent and yells at him for lying to her about everything and storms out. Meanwhile, Roach and the others are arguing about how they should kill Johnny but Bodhi tells them he knows how to handle Johnny. The next morning, Bodhi and his gang show up at Johnny’s house and have him come with them as they go skydiving. After their jump, Bodhi takes Johnny to the back of a van and turns on a TV and VCR, playing a tape of their friend Rosie holding Tyler hostage and Bodhi explains that it is his insurance policy against Johnny. Bodhi and his gang take Johnny with them as they rob one more bank but Bodhi decides to rob the vault as well. One of the hostages is an off duty cop, who convinces one of the security guards to help him take out the robbers. Bodhi and Johnny are shot in the chest but survive due to their wearing bullet proof vests but the cop and security guard end up getting killed, as is Grommet. Upset at Grommet’s death, Bodhi pistol whips Johnny and leaves him at the scene, where he ends up being arrested as an accessory by Harp. Angelo arrives at the scene and talks Harp into letting him book Johnny, decking Harp as they leave, and when Johnny says he knows where they are going, Angelo says he figured as he unlocks the cuffs. They head to the airport and Johnny continues alone while Angelo goes to cover him. Johnny speaks with Bodhi and Nathaniel and tries to convince him to let Tyler go but when Roach catches Angelo by surprise and shoots him, a shoot out occurs and Angelo and Nathaniel are killed while Roach is seriously injured. Bodhi gets Roach onto the plane and then tells Johnny to get on as well and they take off before the police arrive and fly to Mexico. Helping Roach into his parachute and contacting Rosie, Bodhi prepares to make the jump and Johnny begs him to let Tyler go. Bodhi refuses and jumps out of the plane and Johnny, feeling like he has not other choice, jumps out of the plane after Bodhi, though he doesn’t have a chute. Johnny manages to grab onto Bodhi and tries to get him to pull the ripcord but with the ground getting closer, Johnny is forced to pull the cord before they hit the ground but he injures his knee again in the process. Bodhi manages to walk off as Rosie pulls up and he yells at Rosie to let Tyler go, who races to Johnny as Bodhi and Rosie collect Roach’s body and the money and drive off. One year later, Johnny makes his way to Bells Beach in Australia and confronts Bodhi there, saying he knew he wouldn’t miss the storm. Bodhi prepares to go out onto the waves but Johnny stops him and the two start fighting until Johnny manages to handcuff himself to Bodhi. As a helicopter with more officers approach, Bodhi begs Johnny to let him go out on one wave, as he knows there is no other place to go. Johnny lets Bodhi go and Bodhi heads out into the ocean and the authorities yell at Johnny and wait for Bodhi to come back ashore but Johnny says that Bodhi isn’t coming back and as the authorities watch Bodhi get wiped out, Johnny takes his badge and tosses it onto the beach.
Point Break (1991) met with mixed results from the critics, holding a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, the critics were mostly torn as several of them praised the action scenes but the ones that didn’t like it were mainly critical of the “surf-speak” and a poor script. The scene with Johnny jumping out of the plane without a chute was listed as one of the 10 Craziest Action Sequences and the premise was tested on Mythbusters, with them proving that Johnny could have caught Bodhi but they would not be able to free-fall for 90 seconds or have a conversation. Point Break (1991) was a box office hit, earning $83.5 million off of a $24 million budget and a remake was made in 2015.
As cheesy as it may be, this is one of those movies that if I happen to catch it on, I will sit down and watch it. The acting is good, with Patrick Swayze (Bodhi) and Gary Busey (Angelo) both doing pretty good jobs, as did Lori Petty (Tyler). Keanu Reeves (Johnny) was doing his best to try and not be “Ted” here but there were too many times where it was hard not to think of him as that character. The story was decent and I liked the idea that the Ex-Presidents were basically a bunch of thrill seekers looking for an adrenaline rush and taking to far in the end but a lot of the dialogue was pretty cheesy. The surfing and skydiving scenes were definitely some of the best parts of the movie, as far as the action goes, as was the chase between Johnny and Bodhi but the gun fights themselves just felt too slow and staged to be really effective. Still, this is a fun bit of early 90’s nostalgia that is always entertaining to watch.
Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5