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Movies & TV

08th Dec 2015

JOE’s Film Flashback: Point Break (1991)

Point Break

Colm Boohig

JOE’s Spoiler Series… Point Break.

Welcome to JOE’s Film Flashback, where we take you behind the scenes of some of the finest motion pictures ever made. This is your *SPOILER ALERT* warning, no more excuses now.

Ready? Then follow us as we find out all there is know about the legendary surfing film from 1991, Point Break.

JOE's Film Flashback NEW

Title: Point Break

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Irish release date: January 31, 1992

Worldwide box office: €83,531,958

Irish certificate rating: 18

Tag Line: ’27 banks in three years – anything to catch the perfect wave!’

Clip via WorleyClarence

Plot’s it all about?

Although Ridley Scott was first choice, Point Break was directed by the renowned Kathryn Bigelow. Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) is the fresh-faced FBI agent tasked with taking down a group of surfers, led by the cosmic Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), who finance their lifestyle by conducting shrewd and calculating bank robberies across America’s west coast.

However, it is the intriguing relationship between Utah and Bodhi, two young men who have chosen polar opposite paths in life, that is the truly engaging factor in this frantic story.

With the controversial remake set to hit screens globally this month, here are some interesting points about the two lead actors that may or may not be known by fans of the original Point Break.

For some time, finding the right Johnny Utah proved quite elusive

Despite his rising stardom continuing apace in 1991 with quality turns in the likes of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and the terrific My Own Private Idaho, Keanu Reeves was far from first choice to portray the movie’s principal protagonist.


Executives were reluctant because of his lack of experience in the action genre.

In fact, amazingly, it was only after Willem Dafoe, Val Kilmer, Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen and Ferris Bueller himself, Matthew Broderick passed on the opportunity, that Reeves got his shot.


We’re forever grateful they went with Keanu because we couldn’t picture anybody else doing the role justice.

Patrick Swayze proved to be an extreme sport adrenaline junkie

To say that the late, great Patrick Swayze, who was the only choice to play the baddy Bodhi, was authentic in his approach to Point Break is a bit of an understatement.


He totally immersed himself in the villain, later revealing in an interview that he shared the same free spirit philosophy in life as Bodhi (not counting the bank robberies and murders, of course).

Such was his dedication and passion for the role that there were no stunt doubles used for the famous skydiving scenes, as Swayze was an avid and high quality skydiver.

Clip via GenMaul

Nobody puts Swayze in a corner!

Incidentally, a lot of the casting for Point Break went beyond the method. For instance, a couple of members of the ‘ex presidents” crime gang were accomplished surfers away from shooting, including Bojesse Christopher and John Philbin.

It turned out that Keanu Reeves and Johnny Utah were kindred spirits

Like his character in the film, Reeves decided that in order to be optimally prepared he should learn to surf. And, in identical fashion to Johnny Utah, the Hollywood star continues to surf to this very day at a now quite accomplished level.


At the beginning of Point Break, we discover that Utah turned to the law enforcement profession after a potential career in the NFL was ruined by a nasty knee injury.

Again, Mr Reeves can relate.

Acting was not an initial priority for the John Wick lead as, in his youth, he was a supremely gifted ice hockey player who was tipped to turn professional, only for a serious, yes, knee injury to derail that primary ambition.

Ice hockey Keanu Reeves

Image via twentytwopages

His intense research led him to follow the FBI’s day-to-day operations – an exercise in which he was completely devoted to throughout the production.

Now, that’s dedication. All that work was worth it because it led to this; possibly the greatest ever final scene in motion picture history.

Clip via noideasagain

Honourable Mentions: Gary Busey & Anthony Kiedis

Busey was fantastic as Pappas – Utah’s partner.

His chemistry with Reeves was palpable and his position as the comedic outlet in the story was a crucial element.


The actor’s performance was made all the more remarkable considering he was just beginning to recover from a near-fatal motorbike accident in real life.

Clip via JackBauer137

Anthony Kiedis also enjoyed a significant cameo in the movie as an abominable surfer.

Reportedly, the Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman was difficult to direct at times, with his focus being the main issue.

Anthony Kiedis

Nevertheless, Kiedis’ showing is memorable alone for the fact that his character, Tone, accidentally shoots himself in the foot.

Clip via nflavio

Reeves actually spent quite a bit of that year working with members of the ‘Chilis, as he starred alongside bassist Flea in the aforementioned My Own Private Idaho.

Super Happy Bonus Fun Fact: Both of these scenes from Point Break and The Karate Kid were performed on the very same beach, just a few years apart.

Point Break beach

Image via hideawayleather

Karate Kid beach

Image via Fogs’ Movie Reviews

Song of the Film: If 6 was 9 – Jimi Hendrix

As Johnny accompanies Tyler (played by Lori Petty) to Bodhi’s house party, this song is played in the background.

The underrated Hendrix classic, famously used in Easy Rider, perfectly compliments and encapsulates the attitude of the movie’s characters and theme.

Clip via Various Artists – Topic

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