Swordfish (2001) Warner Bros.
1 hr. 33 mins.
Starring: John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and Don Cheadle
Directed by: Dominic Sena




Photo: Warner Brothers

Anyone who would even consider 'Swordfish' as a mindless summer blockbuster would be deeply mistaken. This film is worth a second look simply for its' poignant 'sandy' look and raw energy. Furthermore, even though the marketing chiefs at Warner Bros. are marketing this film as a high energetic action blockbuster - it is not. Instead, it is a crafty and intellectually challenging, energetic neo-thriller that contains a couple of great action set pieces.

Travolta stars as rogue agent Gabriel Shear with strong political alliances who recruits one of the world's foremost computer hackers Stanley Jobson (played with great range by Hugh Jackman) to hack into 9.5 Billion $ worth of funds contained in an encrypted U.S. Government database. Halle Berry is basically eye candy that most people know exposes her breasts in a ridiculously gratuitous manner that was simply inserted for marketing's sake. To stop this high-risk low profile operation is Don Cheadle, a tough brute FBI agent (aren't they all) who showed more acting chops in 'Boogie Nights' than in this piece.

Read carefully: the opening for 'Swordfish' is one of the most memorable movie openings in recent memory. Without giving too much away, anyone who appreciates the art of cinema will appreciate this ironic, analytical and explosive opening that a viewer will still be thinking about long after the film is over. Travolta opens the film with this line: 'Do you know the problem with Hollywood these days is? They make Shit!!' To many, this can be a death wish because many see that as writing the film's very own critique. Yet, it is this raw and bold energy that Director Dominic Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds) captures at the beginning of the film and never lets go. This very opening sets the tone for this fast paced and exciting film that is much smarter than it seems.

Sena develops his characters within the first half hour and within the first 15 minutes we see how remorseless Gabriel Shear really is. Jackman's Jobson character's incentive to hack the code is a 10$ million payday and not to mention a luscious Halle Berry. As for Shear's motive, the audience only discovers at the very end resulting in a finale that requires the viewer to stay in his chair and digest all the information thrown at them.

The film is packaged as a summer action blockbuster but delivers on another level - a high energy, kinetic neo-thriller. The pacing is fast and the style is superb. Yet, do not mistake the ads that sell it as 'from the producer of the Matrix' as another Matrix-esque film. This film is solid in its' own style and in no way is similar to Joel Silver's other producing effort 'The Matrix'. Instead, Sena crafts a fun ride that teases, entices and ultimately leaves the viewer wanting more. Of course, action is always a great tool to satisfy my need, yet when a director can captivate the audience without any elaborate action sequences and still deliver thrills, you know he is doing a good thing.

Did I mention that there is a flying bus in the film? Lastly, remember this - Travolta's favorite line in the film is 'nothing is really what it seems', and after watching this film, we know exactly why.

Click here to comment on this review or post your own thoughts.

Giancarlo De Lisi


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