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Johnny Utah (character)

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Johnny Utah
First appearancePoint Break (1991)
Last appearancePoint Break (2015)
Created byKathryn Bigelow
Portrayed by
  • Keanu Reeves
  • Luke Bracey
TitleFBI Agent
OccupationFBI Agent

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Johnny Utah is the main protagonist of the 1991 film Point Break directed by Kathryn Bigelow and its 2015 remake directed by Ericson Core. In the original, Utah is portrayed by Keanu Reeves[1] and in the remake, Luke Bracey portrayed the role.[2][3][4] Utah is portrayed as a committed FBI agent who is tasked with infiltrating a group of surfers believed to be the infamous bank robbers known as "The Ex-Presidents".[5]

Fictional Character Biography[edit]

1991 Original[edit]

In college, Johnny Utah was the former quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes before changing his career pathways to join the FBI. Utah is partnered with experienced agent and former Vietnam veteran Angelo Pappas once he joins the FBI. Though initially hostile at first, Utah and Pappas become good friends and partners. Utah's first assignment is tracking down "The Ex-Presidents", an infamous group of bank robbers who dress up as former Presidents of the United States Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter. Pappas asks Utah to test a theory of his that The Ex-Presidents are surfers. Utah is tasked to infiltrate a group of surfers and see if they are The Ex-Presidents or not. He comes across Tyler Endicott, and asks her to teach him how to surf, hoping she can find him a way in to The Ex-Presidents. Tyler introduces him to Bodhi, who recognizes Utah from his College Football career and welcomes him into their group. Utah becomes closely acquainted with Bodhi and begins a romantic relationship with Tyler. However, Utah's cover is blown after a chase with Bodhi (who was still masked) after The Ex-Presidents rob another bank. This causes Bodhi to kidnap Tyler and force Utah into different scenarios. At first they take Utah for a seemingly good-natured skydive, until they land and reveal Tyler's been kidnapped and Utah is thus blackmailed into participating in The Ex-Presidents's next and final robbery. However, an off-duty cop and a security guard are killed and Bodhi knocks Utah unconscious and leaves him at the scene.[6]

Despite superior orders not to do so, Utah and Pappas track down Bodhi and The Ex-Presidents to an airport where they are about to board a plane bound for Mexico, however this results in Pappas's death and Utah being forced aboard the plane at gunpoint. Bodhi and another member of the group, Roach, exit the plane with their parachutes, leaving none available for Utah. Utah then jumps out of the plane without a parachute and intercepts Bodhi mid-air. However, this causes a knee injury for Utah, causing Bodhi to escape, but not before Tyler is returned to Utah.[7]

Utah then tracks Bodhi to Bells Beach in Victoria, Australia. Bodhi is at the scene witnessing what is referred to as "The 50-year storm". Utah attempts to arrest Bodhi once again but Bodhi resists, causing Utah to handcuff himself and Bodhi together. Bodhi begs Utah to let him ride the 50-year wave. Utah relents, releasing Bodhi and leading to his eventual death. In the aftermath of this incident, Utah resigns from the FBI by throwing his badge into the ocean.


The character of Johnny Utah is often considered to be one of Keanu Reeves's best and most defining performances. His role in the 1991 original helped the actor to break typecasting after Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure and helped him become cast in movies such as Speed and The Matrix. The actor has often credited the role of Johnny Utah for changing his life and his career.[8]

The portrayal of the character in the 2015 remake by Luke Bracey was widely criticized as lacking the charisma and personality carried by Reeves in the original.[9]


Johnny Utah has been recognised as one of the most iconic action movie heroes from the 1990's and one of Keanu Reeves's most definiative roles.[10] Due to his iconic status, the character has been referenced and parodied many times since his introduction, the most prevalent reference to the character is in Edgar Wright's 2007 film Hot Fuzz. In the film, Nick Frost's character Danny is a massive fan of Point Break, and admires Johnny Utah, going as far as to homage the scene where Utah lets Bodhi go in the climax of the movie, by screaming and firing his gun in the air.[11] The character is also the namesake of a beer by the Georgetown Brewing Company, honoring the character and the film.[12]


  1. "Keanu Reeves Was Gary Busey's 'Very Vulnerable' Little Brother Making Point Break". CinemaBlend. 2019-08-31. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  2. Fleming, Mike, Jr. (January 8, 2014). "Gerard Butler Catches Wave In 'Point Break'". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 4, 2015. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help) (Archive link requires scrolldown.)
  3. Yamato, Jen (February 24, 2014). "Luke Bracey Set For 'Point Break' Remake Opposite Gerard Butler". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on December 4, 2015. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help) (Archive link requires scrolldown.)
  4. (Press Release) (December 24, 2015). "Point Break, Reborn: How The Greatest Movie Stunt of All Time Was Made". Men's Journal. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
  5. "'Point Break' the bust that began Keanu Reeves's Action Career". Film School Rejects. 2019-05-17. Retrieved 2019-09-07.
  6. "10 Reasons Why The Original Point Break is the best Surfing Movie Ever". The Inertia. 2017-03-17. Retrieved 2019-09-07.
  7. "Point Break changed Keanu Reeves's life, the actor talks how". MovieWeb. 2017-07-27. Retrieved 2019-09-07.
  8. "Here's Keanu Reeves reminiscing about his career changing role as Johnny Utah". The Inertia. 2017-07-25. Retrieved 2019-09-07.
  9. "The Real Problem With the New Point Break". GQ. 2015-12-25. Retrieved 2019-09-07.
  10. "Rambo: 5 Action Heroes That Should Stay In The Past (& 5 That Should Make A Comeback)". ScreenRant. 2019-09-10. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  11. "'Hot Fuzz' and the art of transcending parody". Film School Rejects. 2019-06-12. Retrieved 2019-09-21.
  12. "'Point Break'-Inspired Johnny Utah Beer Now Available in Can Form". Seattle Eater. 2019-07-31. Retrieved 2019-09-21.

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