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Swordfish (2001)

Action & Adventure movie directed by Dominic Sena

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Twists, Turns, Zigs, and Zags.

  • May 22, 2002
I really didn't have any desire to watch SWORDFISH, but since it was the last video left at our local video store, I picked it up. I didn't know anything about the movie except that it starred John Travolta and Halle Berry ...

I was quite suprised at how entertaining and engaging SWORDFISH was. The beginning of the movie confused me because I didn't know what was going on, but as the film progressed by going back in time, I was made to understand. Things were made clear and pieces fit together.

After the confusing, yet highly intriguing opening five minutes of the film, the movie slows down considerably and doesn't pick up again for about forty minutes. I don't know why that is but in action flicks, character development usually doesn't keep tempo with the rest of the film and rarely adds anything to the story.

Hugh Jackman plays the main "good guy" in this tale of international terrorism and national conspiracy. Jackman's character is hired by a man called Gabriel (John Travolta) to hack into a computer system to "rob" the federal government of several billions of dollars and transfer the dough into a foreign account without leaving a trace. As the movie progresses, one becomes aware that Gabriel is either a psychotic international terrorist or one perversely-dedicated secret agent.

The movie is full of action, but except for the first five minutes, most of it doesn't happen until the last thirty minutes. Also, there are all kinds of twists, turns, zigs, and zags. Like Jackman's character, the audience never really knows who to trust or who's a "good" guy or who's a "bad" guy. Pieces to the puzzle are scattered throughout, but unless you think like Sherlock Holmes, you won't see them all. A second viewing is almost a must.

Though this is an action movie, it is also a thought provoking film. Not only does it keep you guessing about who are the "bad guys" it also raises some important issues concerning democracy, freedom, justice, truth, and the American way. Since September 11th, 2001 the world has changed and the issues the movie raises are more important than ever...

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About this movie


Swordfishis a superficial movie, so let's address the superficial facts: Halle Berry was well paid to bare her breasts in this gratuitous cyber-action thriller, and while Berry's many fans will enjoy a cheap drool at the actress's expense, her brief topless scene doesn't justify this insipid parade of glossy violence from the director of 2000'sGone in 60 Seconds. Add yet another notch in John Travolta's bad-movie belt, and you've got Hollywood bankruptcy in full blossom. Go ahead, marvel at director Dominic Sena's biggest money shot--a 360-degree pan as a robbery hostage is blown to bits by a bomb that pelts a surrounding SWAT squad with deadly ball bearings.

The plot, as if it matters: Travolta's a slick, self-appointed antiterrorist who recruits a top-flight computer hacker (Hugh Jackman) to transfer a $9.5 billion government slush fund into a cluster of secret accounts. Berry's the curvaceous bait who lures Jackman into the scheme; Don Cheadle's an FBI agent hot on their tails; and an obligatory subplot turns Jackman's daughter (Camryn Grimes) into an innocent bargaining chip. By the time a hostage transport bus is airlifted in the film's not-so-thrilling climax, Swordfish will hold your passive attention or put you to sleep--it all depends on your tolerance for Sena's brand of derivative bloodlust. It's pornography of a sort, and efficiently mechanical, but you can bet good money that Berry and her costars didn't cash their paychecks proudly. --Jeff Shannon

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Director: Dominic Sena
Screen Writer: Skip Woods
Runtime: 99 minutes
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
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