Patrick Swayze was an accomplished skydiver, and took part in the big skydiving scene. He made fifty-five jumps in total.
The film was originally called "Johnny Utah" when Keanu Reeves was cast in the title role. The studio felt that this title said very little about surfing, and by the time Patrick Swayze was cast, the film had been renamed Riders on the Storm after the famous song by The Doors. However, the lyrics had nothing to do with the film, and so that title was also rejected. It was not until halfway through filming that "Point Break" became the film's title, because of its relevance to surfing.
For many of the surfing scenes, Patrick Swayze refused to use a stunt double, as he never had one for fight scenes or car chases.
Second unit director and stunt coordinator Glenn R. Wilder held fight training sessions for the cast on weekends, because director Kathryn Bigelow wanted the actors to do their own fights on-screen without stuntmen. Anthony Kiedis was allegedly the only cast member to miss this training, so Wilder had his character knocked out with one punch during the first fight sequence in the movie.
Keanu Reeves observed real FBI agents in Los Angeles to study for the role. He also practised with UCLA quarterback coaches to help with the football scene.
According to Gary Busey, Patrick Swayze was so nuts about skydiving that he actually badgered him until he gave in and agreed to go with him after filming.
Tyler explains to Johnny Utah that Patrick Swayze's character is named Bodhi, the Bodhisattva. Bodhisattva is a term in the Buddhist religion meaning an enlightened being who, out of compassion, forgoes nirvana in order to save others. Bodhi means "wakefulness".
The scene in which Utah jumps after Bodhi without a parachute was tested by MythBusters (2003). It was determined that Utah and Bodhi would not have been able to free-fall for ninety seconds (as in the film), nor would they have been able to hold a conversation in mid-air. However, it was determined that, by streamlining his body, Utah could have conceivably caught up with Bodhi after jumping from the plane.
Patrick Swayze, who participated in skydiving as a hobby, was told to stop, for insurance purposes, once production began. Producers coaxed him into the agreement with the promise of letting the star do one actual skydive on-screen. The uncut shot of Bodhi yelling "Adios amigo!" and falling from the plane features Swayze actually making a jump. Unbeknownst to the producers, when not on the day's call sheet Swayze and others would occasionally run out to an airport and go skydiving anyway.
Johnny Utah became a FBI agent after a knee injury ended his football career. In real life, Keanu Reeves was once an aspiring hockey player who suffered a knee injury, and went on to become an actor. Patrick Swayze also suffered a serious knee injury playing football and went onto become an actor.
Co-producer Rick King first came up with the idea for the movie while lounging on the beach. He had been given an L.A. Weekly article about Los Angeles being the robbery capital of America, and dreamed up a movie about an FBI agent infiltrating a surf gang that robs banks to fuel their fun.
Two months before filming, Keanu Reeves, Patrick Swayze, and Lori Petty trained with former world class professional surfer Dennis Jarvis on Kauai, Hawaii. Jarvis remembers, "Patrick said he'd been on a board a couple of times, Keanu definitely had not surfed before, and Lori had never been in the ocean in her life."
Patrick Swayze is not the one wearing the Reagan mask during the foot chase sequence. Instead, his stunt double, Scott Wilder, performed the scene, because Swayze was in Europe doing press for Ghost (1990).
The beach spot where the football game is played at the beginning of the film is the same spot used for the soccer game in The Karate Kid (1984).
Kathryn Bigelow fought to have Keanu Reeves cast as Johnny Utah, insisting she wouldn't film the movie without him. The studio and producers were interested in looking at higher profile actors at the time like Johnny Depp
When Bodhi throws the pitbull at Utah, who then pulls the dog off of him and kicks the dog out of view. This scene was shot in cuts using a fake dog and a real one. The real pitbull was gently tossed by the trainer into the actor's arms a distance of approximately 1 1/2 feet. The dog had been prepped for this and was comfortable with the action. The ground was padded underneath them to insure complete safety. The toss was completed successfully and no harm came to the animal. A fake dog was used when Utah kicked the dog.
In her DVD commentary for Strange Days (1995), director Kathryn Bigelow described filming the foot chase scenes in this movie using a stripped-down, hand-held 35mm camera nicknamed the "Pogo-Cam". The camera weighed eighteen pounds, and was equipped with a gyro-stabilizer borrowed from a Steadicam. A wire loop on top of the camera gave Steadicam operator James Muro a rough idea of what was in the frame as he followed the actors at breakneck speed.
Patrick Swayze felt that Bodhi was a lot like him, and that they both shared "that wild man edge".
The film inspired a piece of cult theater, Point Break Live!, in which the role of Johnny Utah is played by an audience member chosen by popular acclamation after a brief audition. The new "Keanu" reads all of his (or her) lines from cue cards for the duration of the show, "to capture the rawness of a Keanu Reeves performance, even from those who generally think themselves incapable of acting". In 2013 Gary Busey attended a performance and received rapturous applause from the audience when he joined the cast on stage. Lori Petty would also turn up and participate in a live action performance
Officially uncredited (because of an unresolved issue with the Writers Guild of America), James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow re-wrote the final script together.
20th Century Fox had made plans for a sequel to the film to be released in the summer of 1993. In fact, a script had been written and was in pre-production. Despite the film grossing $90 million worldwide, the studio decided to scrap the project.
Bojesse Christopher (Grommet) and John Philbin (Nathaniel) were pro surfers, who acted on the side.
To get close-ups of the actors during the skydiving sequences, a crane rig with a telescoping arm was built for each actor. The rigs enabled the cast to say their lines while the camera shot them from below and to the side to achieve the sense of floating while skydiving. In order to provide a more fluid feel, the camera was on a similar rig.
Keanu Reeves's first action film. His past career was mainly composed of teenage movies and arthouse films. Some critics even criticized the film because of this, fearing that Keanu would ruin his serious career.
The youngest of the gang of surfers in the film is known by the nickname "Grommet". In surfer slang, a grommet is a young kid or an inexperienced surfer.
Keanu Reeves described his character as a "total control freak, and the ocean beats him up and challenges him. After a while, everything becomes a game. He becomes as amoral as any criminal. He loses the difference between right and wrong."
Patrick Swayze originally auditioned for the part of Johnny Utah before eventually landing the role of Bodhi.
The skinny, long-haired guy, named Tone, in Warchild (Vincent Klyn) and Bunker's (Chris Pedersen's) gang is Anthony Kiedis, lead singer for the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Matthew Broderick was originally offered the role of Johnny Utah. Others who auditioned were Johnny Depp and Charlie Sheen, and Willem Dafoe, and Val Kilmer.
When Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) is introduced to Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) on the beach, he remarks that Utah's surfboard reminds him of a '57 Chevy he used to have. Swayze previously drove a '57 Chevy in Dirty Dancing (1987).
The nighttime surfing scenes were filmed the day, due to the difficulty in filming such scenes at night, and completed later with visual effects. If you watch during the scene, you can see the actors' and actresses' shadows on the water, as well as a little lens flare caused by the sun.
Patrick's Roadhouse, often attributed to an in-joke aimed at Patrick Swayze, is a real place located at 106 Entrada Drive, Santa Monica, California. It's right on the Pacific Coast Highway, which would be a reasonably logical place for Johnny and Bodhi to have a meal.
Patrick Swayze based aspects of his character after one of his stunt doubles, Darrick Doerner, a top big wave surfer.
The song "Nobody Rides for Free", by Ratt, was recorded especially for the film's soundtrack. It does not appear on any of the band's studio albums, but is included on the band's greatest hits album "Ratt N' Roll 81-91". The song was also the final single released by the band in its classic line-up form.
Chris Pedersen's character Bunker is a reference to Bunker Spreckels, a surfer/playboy who passed away in 1977.
At the bottom of the movie poster gang members are shown wearing president masks. Patrick Swayze didn't show up for the photo shoot so there were only three of them instead of all four. The one wearing Swayze's Reagan mask for the photo was actually Bojesse Christopher, whose character normally wore the LBJ mask.
Ridley Scott was the first choice to direct the movie, he instead directed Thelma & Louise (1991).
Two scenes from the movie that were deleted from the final cut but were shown in the theatrical trailer are: Bodhi and Utah are in Bodhi's truck. Utah is shooting with a gun on the left side. Bodhi says, "This is gonna be a great day, Johnny!" Utah meets Harp at his office with his surfboard. Harp is angry and says, "You are not here to pick up girls, Utah." Utah replies, "The original term is 'babes', sir!"
Rick King recruited screenwriter W. Peter Iliff to pen the script for only $6,000. Since the pay was paltry, Iliff had to wait tables at a restaurant during the day, before going home to write the script at night.
This is the first of two movies in which Keanu Reeves played a former Ohio State quarterback. The second was The Replacements (2000).
To get a sense of frenetic energy for the foot chase scene, Kathryn Bigelow and her crew shot the sequence with what they dubbed the "pogo-cam", which was a rig that mounted a gyro-stabilized camera on a body-length pole that could be led by the cameraman shooting the actors in front or behind him.
During their first skydiving scene, when Bodhi tells Johnny to pull his ripcord Johnny replies, "After you, Alphonse, I insist." This is a reference to the comic strip "Alphonse and Gaston" by Frederick Burr Opper, about two overly polite French gentlemen who can never do anything without insisting the other do it first.
The girl seen dancing (after the guy shakes his tongue at the camera) when Utah enters Bodhi's house party is Betsy Lynn George. She appears in Billy Idol's, Billy Idol: Cradle of Love (1990) music video.
In Buddhism, the word Bodhi is linked to the state of nirvana, where the soul is free from hate, greed and ego. Siddhartha Gautama, the wise sage who was the founder of Buddhism, was sitting under a Bodhi tree when he attained enlightenment.
In Patrick Swayze's autobiography, he states that the producers wanted him to audition for Johnny Utah and that it was his brother, Don, who was an accomplished skydiver. He had never before skydived until the movie.
When Johnny Utah goes to purchase his first surfboard, 15 (Christopher Pettiet) and Utah (Keanu Reeves) have a conversation where 15 is surprised someone like Utah would take up surfing 'at a late age' (Utah being 25 years old). In a strange twist of fate, Christopher Pettiet did not make it to 25: he died from a drug overdose aged 24.
Keanu Reeves liked the name of his character, as it reminded him of star athletes like Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana.
This film was made during the early days of the 1990s extreme sports craze, during which the public (especially young people) became more interested in sports like skateboarding, snowboarding, skydiving, and mountain biking. The increased interest in extreme sports during the 90s would later give birth to the X Games and Winter X Games.
The last thing Johnny Utah says to Bodhi is "Vaya con Dios". Similarly, in Red Dawn (1984), the last words spoken to Patrick Swayze's character, Jed, is "Vaya con Dios", by Colonel Bella.
The Spanish phrase, "Vaya con Dios", spoken by Johnny to Bodhi at the end of the film, in English translates to, "Go with God".
Near the end of the apartment house take-down, Utah has his head forced near the blades of a moving lawn mower that has been turned upside down so the blades are facing up. The machine is a actually a Manila push-type mover with no engine - the sound effects and spinning blades are added in for the scene.
Tom Sizemore, who plays the uncredited role of the DEA agent Deetz, worked with director Kathryn Bigelow on Blue Steel (1990) the year prior to this film.
Bodhi says to Johnny that he hates violence, in fact he kills only one person in the entire movie, the off-duty cop.
Michael Biehn revealed in an interview that there were briefly talks of him co-starring as Bodhi, but plans fell through.
Shots of Keanu Reeves' stunt double doing a real jump are intercut with closeups of Reeves himself seemingly plummeting through the air. To achieve close-ups of the core actors during both skydiving sequences, the production built a special crane rig that held the actors in the air, approximately 10 feet off the ground. As Swayze explains on the DVD featurette, the rig featured a telescoping arm for each actor in the shot, allowing them to move independently of each other, in and out of frame. "They built a body thing with a post coming out of the center of it. We laid in that and you strapped yourself in and put your clothes on over it." The illusion was tied together with a lot of high-powered fans to simulate wind. And as second unit director/stunt coordinator Glenn R. Wilder puts it in "It's Make or Break": "the secret was to also float the camera we had it so that we could turn and oscillate, and it worked out very well." The rig enabled the actors to say their lines while the camera shot them from below and to the side to give the illusion of floating while skydiving.
This film and Platoon (1986) feature Chris Pedersen and John C. McGinley. Also, Keanu Reeves auditioned for a role in Platoon, while Charlie Sheen, Johnny Depp, and Willem Dafoe were contenders for the role of Utah.
Johnny Utah's handgun is a 9x19mm SIG-Sauer P226, at the time of filming, the P226 and the more compact SIG-Sauer P228 were just coming into service as the new FBI-issue sidearms, after the 10mm Smith & Wesson 1076 proved to be too unwieldy for the Bureau's purposes.
The idea of robbers wearing presidents masks was done before in the James Woods and Brian Dennehy movie "Best Seller"(1987). The masks that all three robbers wore in "Best Seller"(1987) were of President Richard Nixon.
Even though late actor, Brandon Lee was never offered a part, he was in negotiations with 20th Century Fox, with his agent, Robert Lawrence in late '89 into early '90 to secure a developmental deal (which he did in '90) before filming began on Point Break (1991). However, Lee was still unknown & Kathryn Bigelow chose Keanu Reeves instead. Brandon still attended the movie premiere on July 10th, 1991, at the Avco Center Theater.
When Johnny Utah (Reeves) is listing the places he followed Bodhi (Swayze) to, he says Bodhi "had lunch at Patrick's Roadhouse". Patrick Swayze was the lead in the film Road House (1989).
Tyler's (Lori Petty's) birthday is revealed to be November 27, the same as director Kathryn Bigelow.
This was director Kathryn Bigelow's first film to be shot in 2.39:1. This film, Strange Days (1995), and K-19: The Widowmaker (2002) are her only films that were made in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, through the Super 35 format.
The plot is the same as the Charlie Sheen movie No Man's Land (1987), and Charlie was cast as Utah, with Ridley Scott directing. But production stalled, and Sheen did Young Guns (1988), and eventually the script went in other directions.
This film was released the same weekend as Boyz n the Hood (1991), on July 12th,1991.
The shotguns used by the Ex-Presidents (Nathaniel and Grommet) are a Mossberg 590 with an extended tube, a Mossberg 590AT with a pistol grip, they also have a sawed off Ithaca 37, and a Remington 870.
Johnny Utah says at one point "I'm 25". At the time of filming, Keanu Reeves was 26.
In 2015, Alcon Entertainment re-made this movie, with Ericson Core directing a screenplay by Kurt Wimmer, unlike the original the remake was critically panned by audiences.
Pappas' (Gary Busey's) handgun is an older model two inch Charter Arm's Undercover .38 special.
The vast majority of the film's aerial photography was captured by Tom Sanders and his mentor Ray Cottingham under the direction of second unit director/accomplished skydiver Kevin Donnelly. In an interview with Skydive Perris, Sanders recalls that while Swayze had two stunt doubles for the jumps, "he definitely did some of the jumping that is in the final cut." Much of this, I would imagine, is included in the first skydive sequence, including footage Swayze and Sanders shot on their own after the skydiving scenes had wrapped "to make the scene better." Dave Donnelly (son of Kevin) was only 16 years old when he worked on this film as a parachute packer and gopher. As Donnelly relays in an interview with Skydive Perris, the Mexico-set sequence was actually shot at the Cal City Parachute Center in the Mojave desert. It was early August and well over 100°F (38°C). "For the shot we were working on, the stunt doubles would exit the aircraft with a helicopter flying left trail. A Twin Otter [a kind of plane] had a camera crew shooting out of the side door and zooming in [on] the doubles [as] they fell away from the camera." Donnelly goes on to describe how on the third day of shooting, an accident took place where the helicopter hit the plane, forcing everyone (including crewmembers who just wanted to cool off in the sky who had no skydiving experience) to jump out. The damaged plane landed without incident, but "the helicopter was in much worse shape I was happy to eventually learn that everyone survived." The sequence wraps up with Bodhi and Utah miraculously surviving. I say "miraculously" because, as Katherine Davies points out in a journal article for the University of Leicester, for the pair to land safely after only pulling their parachute 8 seconds before landing, the cross-sectional area would have to be 641.7 square feet, a.k.a. four times larger than a normal skydiving parachute. In actuality, the pair's crash landing was likely achieved with a simple out-of-frame drop and some very hardy stunt performers.
During the party scene, the song "If 6 Was 9" by Jimi Hendrix is played in the background. Kathryn Bigelow and Hendrix share the same birth date (both on November 27).
Gary Busey starred in a movie about skydiving three years later in Drop Zone (1994).
The same Jimi Hendrix song - If 6 was 9 - were used in this movie and "Easy Rider". Both movies feature characters that led their life obeying the law, but changed their minds once they met misfitis.
The charter plane used by the Ex-Presidents was a Beech 65-A90 King Air, Registration N50JJ, Serial LJ-290.
Pappas mistakenly calls Utah "Johnny Unitas", the name of a famous American football player. Johnny Unitas' full name is John Constantine Unitas. Keanu Reeves later played the character John Constantine.
Gary Busey previously played a LA-based federal agent in Predator 2 (1990) the year prior.
The off-duty cop in the bank carried an older-model Smith & Wesson 6906 with a squared trigger guard.
John Philbin (Nathanial) and James Le Gros (Roach) share a birthday, April 27, two years apart.