Fresh out of the academy, rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah (Reeves) is paired with washed-up veteran Angelo Pappas (Busey), who has an interesting theory about the notorious bank robbers known as The Ex Presidents. With Pappas believing that the robbers are surfers, Utah goes undercover at the beach and manages to get in with the influential Bodhi (Swayze) and his friends. Gradually drawn to their lifestyle, Utah realises that Bodhi’s gang are the Ex Presidents…
Opening with a slow-mo sequence which cross-cuts between a rain-soaked Keanu firing shots and a mysterious figure surfing, Point Break quickly announces what it’s all about: surfing and shooting. Part beach bromance, part cult actioner, part search for meaning, it’s an adrenalin-pumping thrill ride with so much macho testosterone that you’d be hard pushed to find many male directors with bigger balls than Kathryn Bigelow. Sure, the credibility unravels on occasion – Pappas knocks out his superior, Johnny jumps out of a plane sans parachute – but it’s all done in character.
While the dialogue also clunks at times (“Back off Warchild, seriously!”), Bigelow orchestrates some exhilarating action (the foot chase being a stand out among stand outs) and a few gorgeous moments (such as Johnny’s first skydive, accompanied by Mark Isham’s poignant score). As Johnny Utah, Reeves is well-cast and serves as a metaphor for the film as a whole – good-looking but prone to dumb behaviour – while Patrick Swayze steals the show as Zen-like guru Bodhi (impressively, he performed his own backwards sky-dive out of a plane, no cut). In support, Gary Busey is entertaining as washed-up has-been Pappas, and John C. McGinley gets many of the best lines as director Harp (“Guess we must just have ourselves an asshole shortage”), but ultimately Point Break is all about the bromance.
Part beach bromance, part cult actioner, Point Break might be a tad silly and clunky at times, but it’s a thrill ride which is easy to get drawn into.