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Written by Skip Woods
Directed by Dominic Sena

Running Time: 1:39

Rated R
for violence, language and some sexuality/nudity.

John Travolta as
Gabriel Shear

Hugh Jackman as
Stanley Jobson

Halle Berry as

Camryn Grimes as

Don Cheadle as
Agent Roberts

Vinnie Jones as

Sam Shepard as
Senator Reisman

Buy Swordfish at
Original Movie Poster

Buy Swordfish at
Original Movie Poster

Although most of the talk before the release of Swordfish centered around Halle Berry's breasts, the movie itself was actually a fun one. And even though there was a lot of technical jargon that flew right over my head, I still had a good time with all the action and explosions.

Hugh Jackman stars as Stanley Jobson, considered one of the world's best computer hackers. A couple of years back however, he was caught breaking into a government computer, and crashing a program they had spent two years getting online. After spending time in prison, he is released, but as part of his probation, he's not allowed to touch a computer. He has a young daughter that he desperately wants to see, but she's living with her alcoholic mother, and a porn director step-father. Enter Halle Berry as Ginger. She comes to Stanley, and says that if he meets with her employer, she will help him get his child back. Stanley is a little wary at first, well who wouldn't be, but then agrees when she throws $100,000 in cash at him. Ginger takes Stanley to meet with Gabriel, played by John Travolta. No one really knows what Gabriel is. Or who he is for that matter. But when Gabriel offers Stanley $10 million to help him with a little computer virus, Stanley jumps, even though he knows whatever is going on is a little shady. From there things start to snowball. Who are all these people? Is Ginger a cop or not? Is Gabriel a terrorist or not? Who is Stanley really working for? Has he tipped off FBI Agent Roberts (Don Cheadle) or is Stanley working for Gabriel? And how does the Senator fit into all of this? If you pay attention early on in the movie, you can figure out how it will end, but it's a wild ride in between.

The movie opens with a Travolta monologue, but then quickly goes to a incredibly filmed explosion scene, something I'm pretty sure I've never seen before. When the explosion hits, the camera goes in a full 360 degree circle and shows you how the explosion affects everything in the area. It was very well done and very impressive. Then the movie jumps back 4 days and takes you through all the stuff that happened leading up to the explosion. We meet all the characters and they set up the story by playing with Stanley's one weakness, his daughter. They did a nice job of setting up his ex-wife as being a total bitch, so that you want Stanley to get his daughter back, at any cost. Jackman has all the markings of a huge movie star. Following on the footsteps of X-Men (and a slight misstep in an Ashley Judd romantic comedy), he's just got that movie star look about him. He needs to just go out and make a movie where he's the big star and he could end up being the next Russell Crowe. Travolta is his happy self in this movie. He's got that cool thing down pat by now, and here he's allowed to also go a little insane, which is nice to see. One assumes that his character got all the money he has by doing this sort of thing before, but there isn't a lot of mention of that int he movie. This job however entails breaking into a government system and taking over $9 billion that's just been sitting around. And to add a little romance to his character so you won't hate him too much, is that he wants to take the money in order to kill all the terrorists of the world. He wants to show them that if you attack the good old U.S. of A., he'll attack back. Does this make him a patriot, or just another terrorist himself?

Then there's Halle Berry and her famous breasts. I can't think of another movie where a leading actress flashing her breasts has made such a stir. She has refuted the rumors that she got paid an extra $500,000 to bare all, but I have a feeling somewhere along the line she took some extra cash somewhere. The scene itself is OK and comes up a little unexpectedly. And for that matter, I didn't really see what the point of the scene was, other than a chance to show some skin and maybe add some adolescent dollars to the bottom line. There's a scene later on of her in her bra and panties that was much more erotic than her sitting on a chair topless. But if you like Halle Berry, then I'm sure you'll want to see this movie. Maybe only matinee prices, but still.

The explosions and action sequences in Swordfish were fun to watch. Like I said earlier, the big explosion early on in the movie was done very well. There was a nice chase scene with Stanley and Gabriel that was cool, if not really original. Mostly the action focused around computers, which is kind of hard to do, considering it is a computer. This is where all that technical talk came in. Trojans and 128 bit encryption and all that. Most of it didn't make sense to me, so I have no idea if what they were talking about was possible in the real world. But at least they all acted like they knew what they were talking about, so I'll go with it. I've always been a sucker for a good cyber-hacking movie. Heck I even liked that movie Masterminds with Patrick Stewart. And they had a cool looking computer system with 5 or 6 monitors that looked nice, even if I couldn't figure out how it all worked.

I guess the downside to the movie is that while it was all nice and good, there wasn't a whole lot of originality to the story. Breaking in to a government computer to steal money. Using a family member against a guy to get him to help you. Using a woman against a guy. All the action sequences had been done before, even if they were shot a little differently. Although upon reflection I suppose the whole flying bus scenerio was new. The whole Travolta opening monologue actually ruined a lot of the movie, because you could see where it was going to end up, so there wasn't a lot of, "I wonder how this will all end!" feelings while watching.

So overall I enjoyed watching Swordfish. The actors seemed to be enjoying themselves, which makes their performances a little more exciting to watch. Halle Berry topless was nice, if not really necessary. And the action sequences looked good, even if they weren't all that original. For 100 minutes, it was good mindless entertainment.

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reviewed 06/10/01

© 2001 Wolfpack Productions

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