When Point Break was released 25 years ago today, director Kathryn Bigelow was an unknown, Patrick Swayze was that dude from your girl's favorite movies and Keanu Reeves was time traveling stoner Ted Logan.
No one could have predicted that they would make one of the greatest action movies of all-time. And yet, here we are, a quarter century later, still marveling at this completely absurd and totally over-the-top tale of bank robbery, extreme sports and beach football in crop tops.
Let’s be clear: Point Break is aggressively dumb. The story—a group of surfing bank robbers is infiltrated by a former star quarterback turned FBI agent—sounds more like a bad sketch comedy bit than the makings of a major Hollywood hit. But it works, in part because the silliness is taken so far that the filmmakers appear in on the joke. You don’t cast Gary Busey without some self-awareness.
The reason Point Break is still relevant though isn’t the cornball plot. It’s the legitimately great stunts (and fantastic characters). Bigelow’s skills are on display through out as she directs some of the best surfing set pieces to ever make it into a movie and, for my money, the best foot chase in Hollywood history.
The sky diving scenes are also legend. Recorded partially on a rig that hovered 10 feet off the ground, the highly coordinated stunt also had the actors jump from real planes. In the final jump, Swayze actually leaps from the prop plane. No green screen, no cables. Just Swayze and the wind.
Even if you haven’t seen Point Break, you’d know the references. The Dead Presidents and their masks have become iconic. The name Johnny Utah is too stupid to forget. And, of course, the quote that should be number one on the American Film Institute's list: