The 1991 action movie Point Break stands as a cult classic, but the ending of the film carries a much deeper meaning than it first seems to.
The ending of the 1991 action movie Point Break has a lot more depth than it may first appear. In Point Break, Keanu Reeves portrays Johnny Utah, a rookie FBI agent assigned to the case of a gang of Los Angeles bank robbers known as the Ex-Presidents. Johnny’s partner, Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey), theorizes that the Ex-Presidents are surfers, leading Johnny to go undercover in L.A.’s surfing community, and eventually be taken under the wing of surfing guru Bodhi (Patrick Swayze).
While Point Break is full of action and surfing fun, the movie has a much more grim ending than one might expect due given how it starts out. While many other Keanu Reeves movies like The Matrix could not facilitate such a tone shift, for Point Break, it is a very natural conclusion to its story. Additionally, Point Break‘s ending brings Johnny and Bodhi’s stories in the film to the right crescendo due to their respective personalities and character arcs
Point Break Is A Fun Movie (At First)
In the beginning of Point Break, Johnny Utah enters the L.A. field office of the FBI as an enthusiastic new recruit, certain that he and his partner Angelo Pappas can take down the Ex-Presidents in short order. When Pappas sends Johnny into L.A.’s surfing community, the young agent largely scoffs at the idea of becoming a surfer as a tool of solving a bank robbery case. What Johnny does not count on is how seductive surfing and surfer culture ends up being, especially after he is introduced to Bodhi.
Through Johnny’s budding romance with Tyler (Lori Petty) and Bodhi’s care-free, adventurous lifestyle (which later influenced Dominic Toretto in the Fast & Furious movies), Johnny’s outlook on both life and surfing shift in the direction that Bodhi leads, much to the chagrin of his FBI director Harp (John C. McGinley). Unfortunately, as Johnny and Bodhi come to learn the secret the other is hiding, their days of surfing and skydiving fun take a sharp and decidedly grim turn.
Point Break Takes A Dark Turn In Its Third Act
After kidnapping Tyler and coercing Johnny into the Ex-President’s next bank robbery, Bodhi’s usually meticulous bank-robbing methods go south when he decides to send his associates into the bank’s vault, instead of their usual method of sticking to the cash registers. By the time Bodhi has escaped, Pappas, an undercover cop, and all the Ex-Presidents save for Bodhi himself have been killed.
After Johnny tracks Bodhi to Australia during the 50-year storm, Bodhi begs Johnny to “let me get one wave before you take me.” Johnny grants Bodhi’s plea, not unlike Brian letting Dom go in The Fast & The Furious, but with a much darker twist. Johnny clearly recognizes that Bodhi wants to go out doing what he loves most, but the irony of Point Break‘s ending is that Bodhi’s demise has a double-meaning to it. While Bodhi does get the kind of death he has been yearning for throughout Point Break, the way he dies also comes as a wake-up call for Johnny about the kind of life he had chosen to live.
What Point Break’s Ending Means
Bodhi sees himself as a rebel against the system through his outlook on life and surfing. The problem is that Bodhi’s methods of funding a continuous summer stand at odds with that. Bodhi’s recklessness with himself and his friends ends up getting almost all of those closest to him killed, and leaves him a marked man on the run. Far from possessing the wisdom of Patrick Swayze’s Road House protagonist Dalton, Bodhi is a stubborn thrill seeker whose dreams come at the expense, and lives, of others. The third act of Point Break is reality setting in for Bodhi and the Ex-Presidents.
Despite their contrary beliefs, they have not been mere non-conformists to a society that “kills the human spirit“, as Bodhi puts it, but overzealous adventurers who did not think their plans through. Johnny shows a more balanced perspective, continuing his life as a surfer while respecting the social contract that governs the world. As Johnny tosses his FBI badge into the ocean, Point Break‘s ending indicates that he learned the one lesson that Bodhi did not about adventurous ambition needing to be tethered to reality. As one of Keanu Reeves’s best movies, Point Break shows Bodhi’s final days end up being a far cry from the adventure he yearned for.
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