“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. Once you get them peeing down their leg, they submit. Also about fear, fear causes hesitation, and hesitation causes your worst fears to come true.” – Bodhi (Patrick Swayze)
As Kathryn Bigelow‘s Zero Dark Thirty is about to be released (limited opening this Wednesday) and is already getting lauded as a masterpiece, it is difficult not to take pause and think of her past works. Sure, The Hurt Locker won a Best Picture Oscar, but, it is hard to argue that any of her films have struck such a resonant chord in the hearts of film nerds and pop culture at large as Point Break. The movie features Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves at the peak of their physical beauty. It has dozens of quotable quotes, ranging from “Vaya con dios, brah” to “Little hand says it’s time to rock ‘n roll.” There are also not one, but TWO skydiving sequences.
More important than anything else, though, Point Break is a legitimately great film. Bigelow’s action sequences are shot to perfection and the grandiosity of testosterone-infused bromance and is downright awe-inspiring. Also, poor Keanu Reeves gets a lot of flack for being a bad actor, yet as Point Break more than proves, when used properly, Keanu can be very effective. His Johnny Utah can emote with the best of them, perform the hell out of any action sequence… and doesn’t that Quarterback Punk look beautiful in the rain?
Back Off, Warchild — Seriously
This scene is the first moment of the beautiful male bond between Johnny and Bodhi. Red Hot Chili Pepper Anthony Kiedis and Warchild, et al, start hazing Johnny for being a “yuppy,” and a fight ensues. However, Bodhi quickly comes to Johnny’s rescue and warns, in one of the film’s best lines, “Back off, Warchild. Seriously.” Bodhi and Johnny, of course, kick some major ass, and Swayze gets to use some of that “dance fighting” he honed so well in Roadhouse.
Utah, Gimme Two
Johnny’s partner, Angelo Pappas, as played by Gary Busey, is so hungry, he could “eat the ass end of out of a rhino.” What to eat… uh, two meatball sandwiches. This scene also plays Pappas vs. Utah very nicely, as Johnny orders a turkey sandwich, versus Pappas’ more unhealthy choice. The getting of the sandwiches prevents the partners from noticing The Dead Presidents from entering the bank, but that’s alright – a man’s gotta eat. UTAH, GIMME TWO.
Raid Gone Bad
Back when Johnny and Pappas suspect Kiedis and Warchild of being the Dead Presidents, they orchestrate a raid on their drug den. However, after they open fire on the druggie surfers, they realize they have made a mistake: in doing the raid, they inadvertently ruined the guise of an undercover cop, played by the still-legitimate Tom Sizemore, who was about to bust them himself. You think he wanted to wear those clothes, man?
Epic Foot Chase
This AMAZING scene is one of the best in the film, and perhaps one of the best action sequences in movies. Period. In the scene, Johnny Utah reveals himself to be an FBI Agent to Dead President-masked Bodhi and crew as he chases them, post-bank heist. As Pappas shoots through the back of the Dead Presidents’ getaway car at a gas station, they have to flee the scene, leaving Johnny alone with Bodhi. The chase then commences, but Johnny lets Bodhi get away because of his torn allegiances. The entirety of this scene is near-perfect and shot with frenetic energy, and yet it moves fluidly along with its subjects. It also just goes balls out with creativity, as Bodhi leads Johnny through a residential neighborhood, knocking down a lady watering her lawn — as well as most people in their paths — running through another’s lady’s kitchen, scaling high fences… Then the greatest thing happens: BODHI THROWS A PITBULL AT JOHNNY AS A WEAPON. Right on, Kathryn Bigelow.
Please note that this embed-able clip was not available with sound. Please click here to experience the scene in it’s full glory.
Skydiving Sequence #1
After the foot chase, this is probably the most referenced scene in Point Break — it’s even studied in some Cinema Studies classes in terms of the grandiosity in masculinity on-screen (yes, this is from personal experience). Post-foot chase, when Bodhi already knows Johnny is in the FBI, he surprises the Special Agent in the middle of the night and takes him skydiving as a power play. While it’s doubtful that conversations can be carried on whilst forming a visually-appealing hand circle in the air with your besties, who cares? Again, Bigelow delivers with a perfectly overblown action sequence. 100% PURE ADRENALINE!!!
Skydiving Sequence #2
With his cover fully blown, Johnny is again whisked away to skydive with Bodhi and the rest of the surfers/bank robbers — only Johnny doesn’t give him a parachute. What does he do? DIVE AFTER HIM WITHOUT ONE. MythBusters actually dissected this sequence and deemed it impossible, as they said that no one is able to free fall 90 seconds, as Johnny does in the film, or hold a conversation while in the air. However, they did credit Utah with the capability of catching up with Bodhi as he is freefalling. And Johnny and Bodhi successfully avoid becoming “meat waffles.”