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The film was a box office success upon its release, and it has since gathered a cult following. The film also contains notable celebrity cameos including Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis.
In this action/crime-drama, Reeves stars as Johnny Utah, an FBI agent whose background consists of having served as a quarterback for Ohio State. Johnny and his partner Angelo Pappas, (Gary Busey) are assigned to investigate a string of bank robberies in the Los Angeles area committed by a gang nicknamed the "Ex-Presidents", due to their use of masks of former presidents during said robberies. Their investigation leads them to a group of surfers led by Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), an adrenaline-junkie who would do anything for a cheap thrill... perhaps even rob banks.
Johnny falls fast for Bodhi's ex-girlfriend Tyler (Lori Petty), who he convinces to teach him how to surf. Johnny begins to suspect Bodhi of involvement with the robberies performed by the ex-presidents, but at the same time becomes addicted to his adrenaline charged, thrill seeking lifestyle.
This Movie Contains Examples Of:
- Big No: Shouted by Johnny Utah when he sees Pappas being shot in the back with a shotgun.
- Da Chief: Supervising Agent Ben Harp.
- Firing in the Air a Lot: The scene where Utah empties his gun into the air instead of shooting Bodhi. This was referenced in Hot Fuzz.
- Game-Breaking Injury: Utah's old football injury.
- Hand Cannon: Bodhi's main weapon is a Freedom Arms Model 83 revolver in the .454 Casull.
- Hero Ball: Utah has it chained to his ankle the whole time.
- Hollywood Skydiving: Myth Busters found that you almost certainly can't hold a conversation while freefalling, but Utah could conceivably have caught up with a Bodhi by streamlining his body(though not necessarily at that altitude).
- Most of the skydiving WAS real however, including all the shots of Swayze, an experienced skydiver who made 55 jumps for the film.
- I'm Cold... So Cold...: What Roach says before Bhodi drops him off the plane bleeding to death and then leaves him for dead after he impacts to the ground.
- It's Raining Men: Plenty of parachuting, with some hair-raising last-minute deployments.
- Johnny McCoolname: Johnny Utah himself.
- Karma Houdini: Bodhi. His final fate is ambiguous, but Utah still let him go either way.
- Kick the Dog: Inverted. During a chase scene, Bodhi throws a dog at Johnny to slow him down. Johnny gives the dog a hard enough kick to send it flying away from him.
- Large Ham: John C. Mc Ginley as Supervising Agent Ben Harp.
- Nixon Mask: This movie started the whole thing.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: The "Aussie" couldn't quite master the accent.
- Punctuated for Emphasis: "I am an Eff! Bee! Eeye! Agent!!"
- Revolvers Are Just Better: Bodhi uses a Freedom Arms Model 83 revolver when robbing the bank and uses it on an off-duty cop by shooting him point blank in the heart.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Utah and Bodhi.
- Talking Is a Free Action: A ninety-second shouting match in free-fall? That's unpossible!