Classic Scene: Point Break

Yo, Johnny! I see you in the next life!

A “point break” is a surfing term for the place where the waves hit land… It’s also the name of what is probably the best action-crime film that features surfing, skydiving and men in rubber masks robbing a bank. Director Kathryn Bigelow, who turns 69 today, helmed the slice of 90s nostalgia after reworking the original script with her husband at the time, James Cameron. Keanu Reeves delivers a deliciously bland performance as undercover cop Johnny Utah (what a name), who sets out to foil a gang of free-spirited bank robbers by posing as a surfer and joining the gang, which is led by the enigmatic and captivatingly charismatic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze). The film was a financial success on release, and was received fairly well critically, but has since gone on to garner considerable cult status in the following years and was re-made in 2015 — though without Reeves or Swayze (or the 90s), so what’s even the point?

But did you know…

  1. Like any good cult classic, the film has spawned a stage play “Point Break LIVE!”. Inspired by Reeves’ odd line delivery in the film, the role of Johnny Utah is played by a different audience member each night. The audience must first ‘audition’ and is selected by the loudest applause. Whoever wins then acts the role reading Utah’s lines off of cue cards held up by a production assistant. At one point Lori Petty, who played Utah’s girlfriend in the film, actually played the role.
  1. Patrick Swayze jumped from a plane 55 times during the production of the film. This is notable as the studio actually only permitted him to do so once, for insurance purposes, the rest were all off-camera and for his own enjoyment. The sequences involving Swayze and Reeves chatting mid-fall were faked using a rig on the ground.
  1. One of the most memorable sequences involves Johnny Utah chasing Bodhi after a robbery, whilst Bodhi wears the Ronald Reagan mask, ending in Utah angrily firing his gun in the air as Bodhi escapes. However that is not Patrick Swayze, but his stunt double Scott Wilder, as Swayze was on a press tour for Ghost. Ah well.