At the intersection of buddy cop movies, surfer movies, self-aware action movies, hardcore bromance, and sheer adrenaline-fueled insanity sits one film: Point Break. Released in 1991, the film has remained an unforgettable pop culture touchstone for over 25 years. What's the secret to it's success? Blowing minds while making almost no sense whatsoever.
That isn't a criticism. If anything, it's an accomplishment. This film has a lot going on: FBI office drama, bank robbing, presidential impersonation, romance, philosophy, meteorology, vague mysticism, friendship, skydiving, a Red Hot Chili Pepper, and the ultimate surfer quest for the perfect wave are just some of the things going down on screen. Point Break was an early film for Kathryn Bigelow, who went on to direct films like Zero Dark Thirty and The Hurt Locker, which earned her the first Oscar given to a female director. But even back then, Bigelow knew how to juggle an intricate plot, stage high-impact action sequences, and let her stars shine.
And boy, do Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze shine! Theirs is a cat-and-mouse bromance that defies expectations at every turn. Reeves puts his air-headed Bill & Ted days behind him as the hotshot FBI recruit who is working undercover, while Swayze captivates as a surfer who will stop at nothing for the next big thrill. That we root for each of them to succeed, knowing that ultimately they both can't win, is a testament to the performances and their dynamic together.
But a complicated plot and serious star power is enough to mask some of the more wtf aspects of Point Break. Whatever you may think you remember about it, we guarantee you're still missing out on some of the weirdest things in Point Break - things you may never have noticed before, but will make you appreciate the film more than ever!
Johnny Utah Goes Undercover Using His Own Name
Let's start with one of the biggest, weirdest aspects of the movie: Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) doesn't seem to understand how undercover works. Pretty sure the first thing you do when you go undercover is pick a new identity. But not Johnny! When he's asked to infiltrate the surfer community, he starts by trying to learn how to surf. Which is a solid first step. Unfortunately he almost drowns immediately and a beautiful surfer named Tyler (Lori Petty) rescues him from the waves.
So he tracks her down and introduces himself... USING HIS REAL NAME. While his instincts were right about using Tyler, she is the perfect person to teach him to surf and introduce him to the surfers, he probably should have nailed down his alias first. He made up a fake backstory involving his parents dying, and a fake career as a lawyer, but didn't come up with a fake name to go with it. For that matter, why would a bunch of bank-robbing surfers trust a lawyer? He probably should have spent a little more time thinking that one through.
Do The Ex-Presidents Take Their Theme Too Seriously?
This is another big one and by far one of the more memorable aspects of the film. The bank robbers at the center of the plot call themselves the Ex-Presidents. Because they, you know, dress up like former US Presidents. Using big rubber masks of Reagan, Nixon, Johnson and Carter to hide their faces is both fun and really smart. But then they also wear full suits to match the masks, which seems extreme. Heck, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) wears a tuxedo with his Reagan mask!
Additionally, a lot of the time when they are wearing their disguises they are also impersonating the presidents. Which is a great way to mask their voices while in the middle of a heist... but do they need to continue the charade when they're alone in their getaway car? Talk about committing to a character.
What Does Bodhi Even Mean?
Patrick Swayze's character is named Bodhi, which Tyler (Lori Petty) explains is short for Bodhisattva. "Bodhi" means "awakening," and in Buddhism "bodhisattva" is the term for an enlightened and compassionate person who forgoes reaching nirvana in order to save others. They don't think of themselves, they think of everyone around them.
That isn't really the strange part. What's weird is that while Bodhi the character does have a certain philosophy and enlightenment, he definitely does not fit the bodhisattva mold. He causes much death and destruction in his own pursuit of freedom and thrills. He is, in the end, selfish. Even if he does help Johnny become a bit more enlightened (or at least lighten up).
Beach Football In Leather
Johnny's life as a football player isn't the only surprising thing about that beach football match. If you look closely, at least one player (Rosie) appears to be wearing leather chaps and a leather vest. And throughout the film a number of other surfers seem pretty hardcore. Are they actually bikers? Is that common amongst surfers? Can you carry a surfboard on a motorcycle?
And also, are leather pants really appropriate for a sandy beach football game? The term "chaffing" comes to mind...