The JOE-DOWN Reviews ‘Point Break’

Welcome to the JOE-DOWN, a back-and-forth movie review blog by two snarky newspapermen named Joe from Minnesota, Joe Froemming and Joe Brown. We will take turns selecting a movie — any movie we want — and review it here. For this installment, Brown picked “Point Break.”

The info:

The Movie: “Point Break”

Starring: Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Plot Summary: (From IMDB) An FBI agent goes undercover to catch a gang of surfers who may be bank robbers.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 70 percent

Our take:

Brown: *Reads through list of movies we’ve reviewed. Sees that “Point Break” is notably absent*

How the (REDACTED) have we been reviewing movies since 2016 and we haven’t watched “Point Break?!”

Sure, it may be because we spent an entire month reviewing movies from the “Fast and the Furious” franchise, but it really felt like we reviewed this before. 

But alas, “Point Break” is virgin territory here on the JOE-DOWN. 

Previous experience with this movie? Honestly, I forgot how many times I’ve watched this on cable TV. On weekends, it seemed like it was either “Point Break” or a “Rocky” marathon on TNT. So yes, I’m more than familiar with the antics of Johnny Utah, Bodhi and the Ex-Presidents. And, of course, Gary Busey’s porcelain toilet teeth. 

So Froemming, give us your first impressions while I go surf the tubes, bro. 

Froemming: Oddly, this was the first time I have ever seen “Point Break.” Not sure how that happened, but here we are I guess.

Brown: That is (REACTED) wild to me, man.

Froemming: Also, we needed more movies with Patrick Swayze beating the bejesus out of Anthony Kiedis.

And you are right about the “Fast & Furious” making you think we have already done this. By the time we get to the house party, we were one line away from Bodhi offering Johnny any beer he wants, as long as it was a Corona.

My takeaway from this? Well, it is basically “Surf Ninjas” meets “Heat.”

Anyway, I’m going to pop on my Richard Nixon mask and ham it up during a bank robbery. Brown, kick this thing off.

Brown: The movie opens in the rain with Keanu Reeves holding a shotgun, which is a rather dark twist on the Sad Keanu meme

We see Keanu going through the shooting range at the police academy. I guess he passed, but like Marge Simpson, he missed the baby and the blind man. 

The man at the shooting range is Johnny Utah, a former quarterback for The Ohio State University and a rookie agent for the FBI. He specializes in bank robberies and is sent to the LA bureau. We meet his superior, Director Harp (played by John C. McGinley). And basically, Harp wants things done by the book and using data. You know, nerd shit. It’s to the point where he doesn’t want agents eating junk food. Johnny is so straight-laced, he says that he takes the skin off of chicken.

That is the saddest line I’ve ever heard in a movie. 

Froemming: It is followed by Johnny grabbing a donut and Reeves looking confused by food with carbs in them.

Brown: And it’ll only get worse for Johnny Utah when he gets paired with Agent Pappas, played by Gary Busey, America’s greatest motivational speaker. 

Froemming: This was a bad week for us to review a Busey movie. 

Now Pappas is a rough-around-the-edges veteran who has a theory on a current string of bank robberies. Only he is Gary Busey, so everyone assumes his theory involves UFOS and whatnot. I assume. And he is crabby to be partnered with a guy with a surfer accent even though we are led to believe Utah is some doofus from the midwest.

My God, this character was perfect for Reeves. Just make him a Los Angelo who already knows how to surf. Now I have to pretend he just talks like that normally? Nope. Sorry movie, you (REDACTED) up with that part. 

Brown: Look, can we all agree that Keanu Reeves is not a good actor? He’s an entertaining actor who has stage presence, but good actor… not so much. And to his credit, Keanu’s gotten better as he’s gotten older. Plus, the “John Wick” movies (REDACTED) rule.

Plus, he’s not a great acting teacher, either.

Froemming: He has two distinct characters he repeats given the role. Ted Theodore Logan and Neo from the Matrix. Sometimes a mix of the two, like in this. There is nothing else.

Brown: Anyways, the assignment that Johnny Utah and Pappas work on: the Ex-President robberies. Where a foursome of criminals wear masks of Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and history’s greatest monster Jimmy Carter

Froemming: I would like to point out that the name Johnny Utah is the worst name I have ever heard since Joey Jo-Jo Junior Shabadoo.

Brown: Froemming, you and I can agree that the Ex-Presidents are a delight. 

Froemming: If I were in a bank that was getting robbed by these guys? I would grab some popcorn, sit down and enjoy the show. They have more charisma in this first robbery than Kristen Stewart did in six “Twilight” movies

But Nixon made one flaw here. Something we are all guilty of at some point in our lives. When the adrenaline kicks in, you’re on top of the world, sometimes you need to moon some folks. Well, Nixon does this, showing Johnny Utah and Pappas that the criminals have surfer tans.

Brown: Anyone shoehorning a Richard Nixon imitation during a bank robbery is all right by me. Also, President Reagan robbing banks? I thought trickle-down economics made everyone wealthy, Ronnie. 

*walks away slowly*

Froemming: Not sure if you were paying attention to the movie, but that wasn’t really Ronald Reagan, it was a guy in a mask. Please try to keep up, Brown. 

Brown: I mean, I could see Nixon threatening people with guns. Because if you cross Richard Nixon, you’ll pay! Don’t think you won’t pay!

Froemming: So Pappas and Johnny Utah (which sounds like the name of an old folk song like “John Henry“) decide to look into the surfer angle. And since Pappas is Gary Busey, and no sane insurance company would insure the actor for getting on a surfboard despite that being the one thing I wanted this movie to show me, we have Johnny having to learn to surf and infiltrate a gang of surfer-bank robbers. And since Johnny already has the surfer inflection when he speaks, he is 90 percent there already.

And so he goes to a surf shop to buy a board which we find out is comical. Since I do not surf, like Charlie, I had no idea the kid at the store was goofing him.

Brown: Well, none of these surfer bums buy Johnny Utah as a surfer. He looks like one of Patrick Bateman’s friends in “American Psycho.” One that probably met the sharp end of a way-too-clean ax.

Which, yeah, Johnny Utah’s first ride goes poorly. Dude nearly drowns. Luckily, a young woman named Tyler saves Johnny Utah from the brink of death. 

Froemming: You may know her as Tyler, but she will always be Tank Girl to me.

Brown: So does Johnny Utah thank her? No. Even worse: he peeps on her changing. THEN, he looks up her record and finds her parents died in a plane crash. So now, he’s going to use a fake dead parents story to get Tyler to help him learn how to surf. 

That is (REDACTED), my dude. 

Froemming: This and raiding Mar-A-Lago are all the reasons we need to #DefundTheFBI

So, we see her trying to teach him on the sand how to get up on a board, which I enjoyed because I think most movies would show them in the ocean doing that, and that would probably be a pretty tough way to teach this crap. 

Well, Johnny then runs afoul with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, because they don’t take kindly to his types around there. And they start beating the bejesus out of this guy trying to learn how to surf.

Until another group of surfers, led by James Dalton going by the name Bodhi after he ran into some trouble as a bouncer in Jasper, Mo.

Brown: Hold on. I know you wanna see Anthony Kiedis get his ass kicked. We all want that. But that was not the first time Johnny Utah and Bodhi met. 

After training with Tyler, Bodhi and his bros show up for some beach football!

Oh wait, I got this confused with “Top Gun: Maverick.” Because both movies needed beach football?

Froemming: Hold on, I thought it was during this fight we see Bodhi knows who Johnny Utah is because he follows college football. 

Brown: No, they play football. Johnny Utah tackles Bodhi into the ocean and his crew wants to kick Johnny’s ass before Bodhi’s all “Don’t you know who this is? Johnny Utah, Ohio State, he beat USC years ago.” 

Froemming: You are ruining a good old fashioned RHCP ass kicking for me right now. Also, if Bodhi knew he played for Ohio State, wouldn’t there have been some news of this guy JOINING THE FBI? I am pretty sure some sports writer got that story when it happened. 

Brown: Would it make you feel better if I put Flea getting hit with a bowling ball here? 

Froemming: Now, I gotta say, Swayze is pretty great in this role. I am so used to him playing good guys that when he turns heel, I really enjoy it. Because in this, he is a very likable villain.

Anyway, now let’s get to the RHCP threatening a guy named Johnny Utah. Bodhi and his good-time buddies show up and round-house kick these guys into oblivion. Because these street-toughs menaced him, Johnny looks into the Chili Peppers.

Brown: Turns out, the RHCP have an extensive rap sheet, which does not include hiring Dave Navarro as a guitarist. So, they seem pretty likely suspects to be the Ex-Presidents. Time for Johnny Utah to go party with his new surfer bros.

And apparently for his house parties, Bodhi likes to hire fire breathers? Look, I know this group likes to live EXTREME, I don’t think home insurance will cover the fire breathers and copious amounts of candles this man uses throughout his house. Bodhi’s house is a goddamn tinder box!

If that’s not enough, Bodhi abandons his own house party (which Froemming and I would do if we had a house party, if we ever desired to throw a house party) to go surfing in the dark. 

Froemming: We can’t afford houses, Brown.

Brown: 

What does one of these bros do on the beach? Why, he stabs a canister of lighter fluid, sprays said fluid all over the beach and continuously kicks the fire he started? I honestly thought he was going to write a message in fire in the sand like he was Dennis Reynolds

Then, after a night of, well, night surfing, Johnny Utah and Tyler bang. On the beach. Getting sand everywhere, I assume. It just seems all sorts of unpleasant. 

Froemming:

Brown: But, thanks to this sandy coitus, Johnny Utah is late to busting the RHCP. 

Froemming: Now, I would assume that a raid on a house filled with suspected armed bank robbers would consist of more than four guys, one of them being Gary Busey. Here we are, four FBI agents raiding an armed home. A home owned by the nefarious Red Hot Chili Peppers. And as you suspect, it goes bad almost right away. Because of a lawnmower. 

Yes, a lawnmower gets almost everyone killed. Did this neighbor not see the two armed FBI agents in front of his neighbor’s home?

Anyway, a big old brawl breaks out with — at one point — a naked woman beating up Utah and stabbing one of the agents with a knife. That woman was more badass than any of these chucklehead surfers.

Brown: Anthony Kiedis also shoots himself in the foot. That was pretty fun. Also, Keanu Reeves getting assaulted by a naked woman sounds like someone’s kink. 

It turns out that not only are these guys not the Ex-Presidents, but Johnny Utah and Pappas blew another undercover drug operation that Tom Sizemore was running. 

Froemming: I think it was less an operation than an excuse for Sizemore to score coke. They blew his connection, THAT is why he is mad. 

Brown: Don’t worry. He’ll land on his feet when he gets that trucker job. He needs to stay away from the lot lizards, though. 

Johnny Utah and Tyler hook up again, only to be interrupted by, you guessed it, Frank Stallone more surfing. 

When Johnny Utah sees one of Bodhi’s bros moons, well, no one really, it dawns on Johnny: Bodhi and co. are the Ex-Presidents!

So, off camera, Johnny Utah realizes that Bodhi is scoping out their next target. 

… Why not show us this? Show, don’t tell, movie. 

Froemming: The movie is already two hours long, Brown. I did not need to see Johnny watching people go to the bank.

Brown: I think they could cut one of the slow-motion surfing montages, Froemming. I think five of those is enough. 

Froemming: Look at Stanley Kubrick over here, telling people how to make movies!

Anyway, Johnny informs Pappas that not only are these guys their main suspects now, they have a small window in which to bust them, as summer is almost over and they need to go to…wherever the hell it is they go to after surfing season? Mexico? I think it is Mexico. 

So they do an old-fashioned stakeout outside the bank. Where Pappas is enjoying some Calvin & Hobbes while Johnny is sent to get them some meatball sandwiches. Seems like a pretty heavy breakfast for someone.

Brown: Gary Busey reading the funnies like an asshole seems like an actor’s choice. Way to show off your chops, Gary. 

As Johnny Utah is getting Pappas TWO meatball sandwiches (and himself a tuna sandwich), the Ex-Presidents show up for the robbery. Once Pappas knows what’s going on, the chase is on. 

Well, before that, Johnny Utah starts shooting at the Ex-Presidents. So Bodhi and co. now know that Johnny isn’t what he seems. 

Froemming: You could say Bodhi thinks something is afoot at the Circle K.

Brown: 

After both cars are indisposed, Johnny Utah starts chasing after Bodhi (as Reagan) on foot. It comes to an end when Johnny tweaks his knee that was hurt during his football career. Johnny has a chance to end the chase with Bodhi in the sights of his gun. Instead, Johnny hesitates and shoots into the air in frustration. He can’t shoot a friend. 

… Hey Johnny, don’t fire into the air. Those bullets, they have to come down eventually. It’s physics. Someone’s gonna get hurt because you had to dramatically discharge your weapon. That feels like a suspension, at least.  

Froemming: I feel Johnny and Bodhi should have taken Neal’s advice.

Now the Ex-Presidents know Johnny is a rat, what is their plan? They could (should) kill him. Or they could — take him skydiving in an elaborate plot to blackmail him into a heist.

If I were in this situation, skydiving would not have even been considered. 

The Ex-Presidents opt for skydiving. This is when the movie just goes right off the (REDACTED) rails.

Brown: Before the skydiving, Tyler finds out that Johnny is AN EFF-BEE-EYE AGENT. 

And yeah… no sympathy for Johnny here. You did make up a story about your parents dying. And granted, I know the internet was not wide-spread at this point, but I feel like it wouldn’t be hard to find out if a former Big Ten quarterback had dead parents from a car crash. Someone would have written about that heartbreaking story, right?

After the skydiving trip goes off without a hitch, Bodhi shows Johnny Utah his insurance policy. He has kidnapped Tyler and will have her killed if Johnny doesn’t come along to the Ex-Presidents’ next robbery. Only, he doesn’t get a sweet Ex-Presidents mask. 

Come on, Bodhi, you couldn’t give Johnny Utah a mask from one of the mediocre presidents? 

Froemming: Hell, give him a George H. W. Bush mask. We saw how badass he could be when he moved to Springfield.

Well, Bodhi gets greedy during this robbery. Before they just stole the money from the front part. Now he wants to go into the vault. Now, just because he has greasy unkempt hair, he is no Joker here. 

This extra time also gives a cop in the bank the idea to play hero. He has his piece and the security guard has a piece. That is two guns against about four to 10 depending on how many the Ex-Presidents have on them. The numbers are against this guy. He gets people killed for this little John Wayne act.

Brown: The X-Presidents wouldn’t have gotten into such a kerfuffle. 

Bodhi loses his cool and instead of being this surfer guru, he is forced to kill the off-duty cop. He also knocks out Johnny Utah on the way out of the bank. 

For his part in the bank robbery, Johnny Utah is arrested and berated by Director Harp. Pappas is also berated, but Pappas goes full Debo on Harp

Pappas gets Johnny Utah in a car and they are headed to the airport to cut off Bodhi and his crew before they try to leave the country. Well, whatever’s left of Bodhi and his crew after this whole operation went tits up.

Froemming: At the airport, Johnny tries to stop the crew, only for everything to turn into a firefight that leaves Pappas dead and Bodhi’s brother (?) critically wounded. Now, apparently the pilot was cool with all this gunfire going on and whatnot, but he decides to draw the line when Bodhi wants to bring his shot-up and bleeding partner into the plane. Weird battle to pick, pilot. 

Bodhi also forces Johnny into the plane for reasons. There is no logical reason to bring this guy. Felt like padding out some scenes to me. 

On the plane that is heading to Mexico or Portugal, down ol’ South America way, Bodhi tends to his pal while strapping the money bag to him, knowing full-well this guy is going to die on the jump down. He knows it. Johnny knows it. I am pretty sure even that weird pilot knows it. Johnny just wants him to call off the murder of Tyler before he leaps to freedom. His freedom in Portugal, down ol’ South America way. 

Bodhi doesn’t, just jumps out of the plane after tossing his gun. 

Brown: I mean, just watch this, people. 

It’s so awesome. But so goddamn dumb.
Both Johnny Utah and Bodhi survive this, instead of Johnny getting his shoulders ripped from their sockets while trying to hold onto Bodhi. 

Also, Johnny Utah has to make the choice: lose the gun and pull the ripcord; or keep the gun and they plunge to their deaths. … Why not put the gun in your pocket? Or in your waistband? 

Froemming: I will let Ben Affleck and Michael Bay explain this.

Brown: So Bodhi still keeps the upper hand and gets away. He does let Tyler go, leaving a hobbled Johnny Utah (the knee gives out again) with his girlfriend in a nighty alone in the Mexican desert. 

Fast-forward and a long-haired John Wick Johnny Utah has pursued Bodhi to Australia. Earlier in the movie, Bodhi mentions that a 50-year storm will hit Bells Beach and produce monster waves. The two engage in fisticuffs, which ends when Johnny Utah gets handcuffs on Bodhi. 

But now that Johnny Utah surfs every day, he understands when Bodhi wants to ride the big wave before going with the authorities. So Johnny Utah lets Bodhi go. 

Froemming: Which is such bullshit because Bodhi has killed people and robbed people and hurt people. He says he can’t be in a cage at one point. Well, guess what bubba? You made that decision in life. The movie suddenly gives Bodhi an unearned poetic death (it is assumed he is killed by the waves, the thing in his life that has meaning). It is stupid. It is a stupid, unearned ending. And then Johnny Utah walks away throwing his badge in the ocean. Why? Don’t know, that wasn’t earned either. This movie is awesome until it veers wildly into StupidVille, USA in the last third.

Brown: And all this nonsense from the future Academy Award-winning director of “The Hurt Locker!” 

Also, throwing away the badge, wouldn’t that put Johnny Utah in jail for either the botched bank job in LA or for letting a wanted man go so he could surf? 

Froemming: I back the blue, Brown. I don’t see any issue with any of that. 

Let’s surf our way down to recommendations! 

WOULD YOU RECOMMEND?

Brown: I would. As my usual viewings of this movie suggests, this is a great cable action movie to kill time on a sleepy weekend. 

Froemming: Yeah, it is a fun movie. I just didn’t care for the last third of it.

Here is what’s coming up for the next JOE-DOWN

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