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- Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Written by W. Peter Iliff.
100% Pure Adrenaline. (taglines)
- If you want the ultimate rush, you've got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It's not tragic to die doing what you love.
- I hate this Johnny. I really do. I hate violence. That is why I had Rosie do this, I could never do that man, I could never hold a knife to Tyler's throat, she was my woman, we shared time. But, Rosie, he's like a machine. He's got this gift of blankness. Once you set him in motion, he will not stop. So, when three o'clock comes, he will gut her like a pig, and try not to get any on his shoes and there is nothing I can do.
- You're sayin' the FBI's gonna pay me to learn to surf?
- I am an F.B.I. Agent.
- Utah, get me two!
- I'm so hungry I could eat the ass end out of a dead rhino, I should have had you get me three of these things!
- Ben Harp: You know nothing. In fact, you know less than nothing. If you knew that you knew nothing, then that would be something, but you don't. You're a real blue flame special, aren't you, son? Young, dumb and full of cum, I know. What I don't know is how you got assigned out here in Los Angeles with us. Guess we must just have ourselves an asshole shortage, huh?
- Johnny Utah: [quietly] Not so far.
- Pappas: Listen, you snot-nosed little shit! I was takin' shrapnel in Khe Sanh when you were crappin' in your hands and rubbin' it on your face!
- Johnny Utah: You mad?
- Pappas: Yeah, I'm mad!
- Johnny Utah: YOU MAD?!
- Pappas: Yeah, I'm mad! Whatcha gonna do about it?!
- Johnny Utah: Feels good, doesn't it?
- Roach: [about surfing] There's nothing as exhilarating, man. Not even sex.
- Tyler: Maybe you're not doing it right, Roach.
- Ben Harp: Special agent Utah! This is not some job, flipping burgers at the local drive-in! Yes! - your surf board bothers me! Yes! - your approach to this whole damn case bothers me! And yes! - YOU BOTHER ME! And Pappas! Oh, for the love of Christ. How the hell did I even let you talk me into this whole bone-headed idea to begin with?!
- Pappas: Harp! We are working under-cover. It takes time. We've produced a few...
- Ben Harp: NO! No no no no no no NO! Let me tell you what you've produced... Over the last two weeks, you two have produced exactly squat! SQUAT! During which time, the Ex-Presidents have robbed two more banks! Now for Christ's sake, does either one of you have anything even remotely interesting to tell me?
- [brief pause]
- Johnny Utah: I caught my first tube today... Sir.
- Nathanial: You act like nothing happened.
- Bodhi: Relax Nathanial.
- Nathanial: [shouting] Don't tell me to relax Bodhi! He's a fuckin' Federal agent!
- Roach: I should've shot him when I had the chance.
- Grommet: I say we pack up our shit and leave town tonight.
- Rosie: You run, you die.
- Bodhi: Did you know that we've hit thirty banks in three years and they weren't able to touch us, and all this does is raise the stakes of the game.
- Grommet: [nervously shouting] Fuck the stakes Bodhi! The only one that thinks that this is a game is you man this is real. This is serious shit, and I am scared.
- Bodhi: What's the matter with you guys? This was never about the money, this was about us against the system. That system that kills the human spirit. We stand for something. We are here to show those guys that are inching their way on the freeways in their metal coffins that the human spirit is still alive. Don't worry about this guy, okay? I know exactly what to do with him.
- Bodhi: [getting ready for their next robbery] 90 seconds Johnny. That's all I ask for, just 90 seconds of your life Johnny, that's it. This is our tactic, is we strike fear. It's basic dog psychology, if you scare them and get them peeing down their leg, they submit. But if you project weakness, that promotes violence, and that's how people get hurt.
- Roach: Peace, through superior firepower.
- Bodhi: Fear causes hesitation, and hesitation causes your worst fears to come true. [hands Johnny a shot gun]
- Johnny Utah: I can't do this.
- Bodhi: Yes, you can. Who knows, you might like it.
- Johnny Utah: Bodhi, this is your fucking wake-up call man. I am an F, B, I, Agent!
- Bodhi: Yeah, I know man. Ain't it wild? That's what makes it so interesting. You can do what you want, and make up your own rules. Why be a servant to the law, when you can be its master?
- Grommet: Fuckin' A!
- Nathanial: I love this job.
- Pappas: [of Johnny, after the last robbery] Don't ride him in with the black and whites like some punk, let me ride him in.
- Ben Harp: Yeah sure, Angelo, why not? That is why I put you 2 screw-ups to begin with. You deserve each other, don't you? You're just as bad as he is, though you're a little fatter, a little slower and a little more pathetic. For Christ sake, it's like the blind leading the blind with you.
- Pappas: Harp, I want to tell you something. I was in this bureau when you were still popping zits on your funny face and jerking off with the lingerie section of the Sears catalog.
- Ben Harp: Is that right, Pappas?
- Pappas: Yes, that's right "Harp", and out of all these years, I have learned something that you still haven't got.
- Ben Harp: Yeah? Why don't you astonish me, shitface?
- Pappas: [punches Harp in the face] Respect for my elders.
- Johnny Utah: I'm not armed.
- [lifts up his shirt to Bodhi]
- Bodhi: But, you're not alone.
- Johnny Utah: Good guess. There is a gun on you now.
- Johnny Utah: Where is Roach?
- Bodhi: He's around somewhere. Listen Johnny, we're in a kind of a hurry is there anything you need?
- Johnny Utah: You gotta tell me where she is.
- Bodhi: Oh yeah, and let my insurance policy expire. Good idea.
- Johnny Utah: Look Bodhi, people are dead, the ride is over.
- Bodhi: Oh no no no. I say when it's over.
- Johnny Utah: The guy you killed was an off duty cop--They'll nail you wherever you land. There's a new thing it's called radar, maybe you've heard of it?
- Bodhi: What is your...
- Johnny Utah: Bodhi, I know you man. When they fall on you, you won't back down and they'll have to burn your ass to the ground.
- Bodhi: Shit happens.
- Johnny Utah: You got a death wish. You want to ride to glory, fine. But don't take Tyler with you. I'm begging you. Tell me where she is, and I walk away.
- Bodhi: You walk away?
- Johnny Utah: I walk away.
- Bodhi: That's beautiful Johnny.
- Roach: Hey man, I'm cold. Really cold.
- Bodhi: Here's your jacket
- [helps Roach put his jacket on then hugs him to warm him up]
- Bodhi: Johnny, hand me that bag of money.
- Johnny Utah: You're cold because all of the blood is running out of your body Roach. You're gonna be dead soon. I hope it was worth it.
- Bodhi: Don't listen to him, he's just scared. Just think about all of those senoritas and margaritas nursing you back to health. [helps Roach put his parachute pack on him]
- Roach: What the fuck are you looking at?
- Johnny Utah: A dead man.
- 100% Pure Adrenaline.
- 27 banks in three years - anything to catch the perfect wave!
- In California, you can party, have sex and surf, before it's time to go to work.
About Point Break
- It's not about good guys and bad guys. It's a little more complicated when your good guy-your hero-is seduced by the darkness inside him and your 'villain' is no villain whatsoever, he's more of an anti-hero.
- Kathryn Bigelow in "Hollywood's Macho Woman", by Mark Salisbury, The Guardian, (November 21, 1991); as quoted in Kathryn Bigelow: Interviews by Kathryn Bigelow, edited by Peter Keough, (2013), p. 65.
- What’s more, the male-on-female perving is staged as a groan-worthy gag. Johnny is all but tripping over his tongue as he spies on Tyler through binoculars while she changes out of her swimsuit. The film’s admiration for Reeves’ and Swayze’s bodies, on the other hand, is subtler – and coded into every shot. Look out, for instance, for the almost indiscernible drop into slow-motion in the sequence where Johnny showers at the beach: it’s one of the stealthiest phwoars in modern cinema.
It’s unlikely that a male director would have had the nerve for this – or that two more established male stars, with hard-won hard-man reputations to defend, would have thrown themselves into it with quite so much gusto. In a promotional interview, Swayze described the film as being miles from “slap-ass, macho, jokey crap…I wanted to play it like a love story between two men.” In 80s action movies, the male body is a weapon of war. Point Breakturns it into a source of pleasure.
And pleasure is what Point Break’s leads are chasing. Whether surfing, skydiving, playing American football or robbing banks in rubber masks, it’s all in pursuit of what Tyler purringly calls “the ultimate ride”: a thrill so big it recalibrates your worldview.
- This stuff was so revolutionary that Hollywood took almost a decade to catch up. In some respects, Point Break’s effect on pop culture was immediate: it brought extreme sports into the mainstream and made Reeves the 1990s’ defining action star, just as Bigelow predicted. But it was only ten years later, with the success of The Fast and the Furious – a car-based Point Break remake in all but name – that brotherly love and beautiful men had become ingrained in action-movie culture.
- Robbie Collin, "Tough guys have feelings too: the power of Point Break", The Telegraph, (2 February 2016).
- The bodhi tree, according to the Buddhists, is the tree beneath which one finds enlightenment. That is not exactly how it works with Bodhi, the surfing bank robber who is the existential hero of "Point Break," but he is such a persuasive character that a young FBI agent falls under his spell. Or maybe it is Southern California itself that attracts the agent - that land of surf and skydiving and strange karma, so seductive to a square football hero out of Ohio.
- Bigelow and her crew are also gifted filmmakers. There's a footchase through the streets, yards, alleys and living rooms of Santa Monica; two skydiving sequences with virtuoso photography, powerful chemistry between the good and evil characters, and an ominous, brooding score by Mark Isham that underlines the mood. The plot of "Point Blank," summarized, invites parody (rookie agent goes undercover as surfer to catch bank robbers). The result is surprisingly effective.
- This turns out to be one of those beach bum-cosmic high armed robberies with which Southern California F.B.I. agents are no doubt constantly plagued. And Johnny turns out to be the perfect candidate for the job of surfing detective. He looks good in a wet suit. He figures out how to extract information from a nice-looking female surf expert (Lori Petty). Pretty soon he is showing up at the office saying things like "Caught my first tube this morning, sir." He totes his surfboard with him to prove the point.
- Among the film's especially energetic sequences are a furious two-man chase on foot through a heavily populated neighborhood, shot vigorously with a hand-held camera; sustained and amazing sky-diving scenes guaranteed to make the palms sweat, and a police raid on a house that becomes a wild melee and turns a lawnmower into a potentially deadly weapon. This last episode, and others like it, prove definitively that testosterone-crazed movie violence is by no means the sole province of male directors.
Especially fiery and scene-stealing is Gary Busey, as the gruff Nick Nolte-style wild man who is Johnny's F.B.I. partner and foil. Mr. Swayze, more tranquil, is best when showing off his proficiency for glamorous athletics and least good when taking the screenplay seriously. When another character says, of Mr. Swayze's Bodhi, "He's got this gift for blankness," the thought seems all too true.
- Janet Maslin, "Review/Film; Surf's Up For F.B.I. In Bigelow's 'Point Break'", New York Times, (July 12, 1991).
- The ocean shimmers behind Point Break’s credits, glowing gold. The words Point and Break cross over, merging and dissolving, and so do the names Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. Patrick Swayze’s Bodhi is a silhouette surfing in slow motion against a soft-blue sea as luminous as a Romantic painting, a mythic figure out of time. Meanwhile, Keanu Reeves’s Johnny Utah loads a shotgun in a gray downpour. He fires at paper targets, and an FBI agent clicks a stopwatch. With this opening sequence, Kathryn Bigelow tells us that the very different worlds of an FBI agent and a surfer will collide, that these two men are destined to meet and to change each other.
- Kathryn Bigelow once referred to Point Break as a “wet Western.” If the cowboy prides himself on conquering new frontiers, on taming the wilderness, the surfer prides himself on giving himself to it, to becoming one with it. At Point Break’s end, Johnny Utah finds Bodhi on an Australian beach where the legendary 50-year storm takes place: “twice a century the ocean lets us know just how small we really are.” Johnny has been hunting Bodhi all this time. It’s their final showdown, and they fight as the storm rages on. Johnny handcuffs Bodhi to him as the authorities arrive. But Johnny decides to let him go, honoring Bodhi’s request to ride one last wave. And the ocean seems bluer with Bodhi in it. Johnny looks at his badge, then throws it into the ocean, a move mirroring Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callaghan tossing his badge in Dirty Harry. But Johnny raises a middle finger figuratively to Harry’s brutal machismo, and to rules, control, law and order. Johnny Utah is not quite ready to give himself over to the 50-year storm, but he’s done with the system. He loses his badge, and he gains a soul.
- Priscilla Page, "POINT BREAK: Kathryn Bigelow’s Subversive Surf Western", Birth. Death. Movies., (Apr. 12, 2017).
- One of the most numbing things about many movies today is how wildly out of scale they seem to go: the way visual and technical virtuosity is juxtaposed with silly, vacuous stories. "Point Break" (citywide) may be a prime example.
It's a movie full of golden, liquid oceanside scenes, aerial ballets, Steadicams flying through packed offices and corridors, massed towering waves crashing down at us—and violent car-crash and gun-battle pyrotechnics splattering all over the screen in bright, violent, bloody shards.
It's beautiful, but it's dumb.
- Michael Wilmington, "MOVIE REVIEW: 'Break': Surf's Up, Credibility Down", Las Angeles Times, (July 12, 1991).
- Patrick Swayze - Bodhi
- Keanu Reeves - FBI Agent Johnny Utah
- Gary Busey - FBI Agent Angelo Pappas
- Lori Petty - Tyler Ann Endicott
- John C. McGinley - FBI Director Ben Harp
- James LeGros - Roach
- John Philbin - Nathanial
- Bojesse Christopher - Grommet
- Lee Tergesen - Rosie
- Tom Sizemore - DEA Agent Dietz
- Anthony Kiedis - Tone