Twenty-five years ago, Point Break, now a surfer-heist film staple, made waves in movie theaters nationwide, boasting a heartthrob cast, starring Keanu Reeves as FBI agent “Johnny Utah,” who goes undercover to nail down the whereabouts of bank-robbing surfers led by Patrick Swayze.
Back then, TIME’s movie critic Richard Corliss found a lot to love about Point Break visually, but summed up the story as “pretty but dumb” in the first sentence of his review “Board Stiff”:
By 2005, however, the movie had firmly moved into cult-classic territory.
Point Break’s star Reeves is “Hollywood’s ultimate introvert,” TIME noted in 2005, and “really scores in high-concept, high-budget action films, where his signature earnest gravitas and world-weary innocence turn what could be standard-issue, effects-heavy tent poles—Speed, the Matrix movies, the underrated Point Break—into genuinely compelling entertainment. Something about that mysterious reserve, the total earnestness, the unwinking way he commits to the most absurd scenarios, makes free falls from planes and wire-fighting cyber-ninja-stics feel like a philosophy lesson.”
The 2015 Point Break remake, however, featuring new extreme sports snowboarding and motocross, was considered a wipeout, both in terms of U.S. box office sales and critics’ consensus.