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 the process, Utah develops a complex relationship with Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), the charismatic leader of a gang of surfers who accept Utah into their midst. While Utah goes undercover in the hope of finding the bank robbers, he finds himself increasingly attracted to their adrenaline-charged lifestyle.
The Bodhi/Utah dynamic gets more complicated as Utah begins to zero in on Bodhi as the likely ringleader of the Ex-Presidents. Utah learns that Bodhi and his gang rob banks in order to fund their lifestyle, and as a form of rebellion against a social system that they believe "kills the human spirit". This creates an internal struggle for Utah, as his fondness for Bodhi and the lifestyle he epitomizes conflicts with his duty and responsibility as an FBI agent.
Point Break 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 song by The Doors. However, Jim Morrison's 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.
Reeves liked the name of his character as it reminded him of star athletes like Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana. He 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". Swayze felt that Bodhi was a lot like him and that they both shared "that wild-man edge".
Two months before filming, Reeves and Swayze trained with former world class professional surfer Dennis Jarvis on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Shooting the surfing sequences proved to be challenging for both actors with Swayze cracking four of his ribs. For many of the surfing scenes he refused to use a stunt double as he never had one for fight scenes or car chases. He also did the skydiving scenes himself and the film's aerial jump instructor Jim Wallace found that the actor was a natural and took to it right away.
Kathryn Bigelow's work positively altered perceptions of female directors in the action film genre, and the film's success helped establish Keanu Reeves as a future action star, from Point Break to Speed to The Matrix.
At the 1992 MTV Movie Awards, Point Break was nominated for 3 awards including "Most Desirable Male" (Keanu Reeves), "Most Desirable Male" (Patrick Swayze), and "Best Action Sequence" for the second jump from the plane. In it, Agent Utah jumps out of a plane without a parachute to catch Bohdi and rescue Tyler. Utah catches up with Bodhi and holds a gun to his head. However, Bodhi refuses to pull the rip cord and Utah must decide between dropping his gun (so he can hold on and pull the rip cord) or letting the two fall to the ground.
The film has inspired a piece of cult theater, Point Break Live!, which features a new, unrehearsed "Keanu" picked at random from the viewing audience, and reading all of his (or her) lines from cue-cards for the duration of the show.
Point Break was listed in the VH1 series I Love the 90s on the episode 1991. Many celebrities, including Dominic Monaghan, Maroon 5, Mo Rocca, Michael Ian Black, Hal Sparks & Jackass's Chris Pontius, commented about the movie and why it deserved to be included in the episode. As Hal Sparks says "We never saw Bodhi die... I smell a sequel, Point Break 2 – Paddling Out". The use of the term "Paddling Out" drew suspicions that a possible sequel could involve Bodhi "Paddling Out" to New Zealand (as reinforced by his quote in the film).
The scene in which Utah jumps after Bodhi without a parachute was ranked seventh in Empire magazine's Top 10 Crazy Action Sequences. The scene was also tested by the Discovery Channel series Mythbusters. It was determined that Utah and Bodhi would not have been able free-fall for 90 seconds (as illustrated in the movie), 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.