- Directors: Kathryn Bigelow
- Producers: James Cameron, Peter Abrams, Robert L Levy
- Writers: W Peter Iliff, James Cameron
- Genres: Action, Adventure, Crime, Drama, Sport, Thriller
- Actors: Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey, Lori Petty, John C McGinley, James LeGros
Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves), is a rookie FBI agent and former Ohio State quarterback who, with his partner Angelo Pappas (Gary Busey), is investigating a string of bank robberies by a gang of bank robbers known as the Ex-Presidents because they wear masks of former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Pursuing a theory of Pappas’ that the criminals are surfers, Utah goes undercover to infiltrate the surfing community. Knowing little of the sport and lifestyle, Utah persuades orphan surfer girl Tyler Endicott (Lori Petty) to teach him to surf.
In the process, Utah develops a complex relationship with Bodhi (Patrick Swayze), the charismatic leader of a gang of surfers, Roach (James LeGros), Grommet (Bojesse Christopher), and Nathaniel (John Philbin), who accept Utah into their midst as they realize he is a great athlete. As he masters the art of surfing, Utah finds himself increasingly attracted to the surfers’ adrenaline-charged lifestyle, Bodhi’s philosophies, and to Tyler.
Following a clue gotten by analyzing toxins found in the hair of one of the bank robbers, Utah and Pappas lead an FBI raid on another gang of surfers. While criminals, these surfers are not the Ex-Presidents and the raid inadvertently ruins a DEA undercover operation.
Utah eventually catches up with Bodhi two years later at Bells Beach in Australia where a record storm is producing huge, but lethal waves, an event Bodhi had talked about experiencing. After a brutal physical altercation on the surf, Utah manages to handcuff Bodhi to his own wrist, but through Bodhi’s persuasion, releases him to go ride the once-in-a-lifetime wave which will kill him. Utah walks away, throwing his FBI badge into the ocean.