Bank robbers, disguised in ex president masks, have the FBI stumped as they virtually disappear after every robbery. Veteran agent Pappas (Gary Busey) believes the thieves to be local surfers because of a resin left behind at one of the banks. His superior thinks his theory is ridiculous, so he and his young partner, Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves - Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure) go undercover at the beach on their own
Johnny makes friends with a local each girl, Tyler (Lori Petty) who teaches him the fine art of surfing. Tyler's ex-boyfriend, Bodhi (Patrick Swayze) is the best surfer in the area, and as if the huge waves weren't enough to give him a thrill, he also enjoys skydiving.
The action scenes are terrific. During a stakeout of a bank, the chase scene is terrific. During a stakeout of a bank, the chase scene is filmed using a handheld camera, which makes you feel as if you are running down alleys and jumping over backyard fences along with the pursuer. Also, the skydiving sequences are awesome. It's the closest thing to floating 8,000 feet in the air without really doing it yourself. It's too bad that the action is interspersed with a ridiculous story and unreal characters. The surfers are throwbacks from the '60s, with Bodhi spouting spiritualisms as if he were their guru, and Johnny Utah makes a bumbling, unlikely hero.
The film is effective as an action/adventure, if you block out everything in between.