Director: Dominic Sena
Starring: John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 78
A computer hacker, trying to get custody of his daughter, is sucked into working for a vigilante looking to pull of a hi-tech bank heist.
Swordfish is a refreshing and daring action thriller whose quick, twisting story carries the day. Recommended!
Swordfish is a tight, intellectual action drama with a lot going for it. There are a few problems in the story’s logic, and much of the action is generic, but the intellectual edge to the story and the good pacing outweigh the negatives.
Let’s focus first on the good…
Swordfish takes the risky tack of trying to be an action movie that engages the viewer’s brain. To a large degree, the movie manages to stay within itself and to stick to its premise very effectively. The sharp story keeps you on your toes, and throws some interesting curveballs at you along the way. A good part of this suspense comes from John Travolta, who plays Gabriel Shear, a spy working with the CIA to steal 9.5 billion dollars from a government slush fund. Travolta shines in his role: Gabriel Shear is larger than life, and walks a fine line between good and evil that keeps you guessing all the way.
Pacing in Swordfish is better than average, although there are a few scenes that are too long and a few scenes that could have been omitted altogether. The tense story drives the pace for much of the movie; the action definitely plays a secondary role. Having said that, the explosion in the opening scene is brilliantly done in a slow-motion, panning shot reminiscent of the Matrix. The ending, too, gets points for the creative use of a bus, and is impressive in places. In between, there is some action that fits in with the movie well, but it’s nothing you haven’t seen before. All in all, though, the combination of story and action works well to keep you engaged.
There are other positives as well. …Halle Berry puts a sexy edge to her role as Ginger Knowles, Gabriel’s girlfriend. Berry drives the babe rating way up! …Hugh Jackman and John Travolta help the hunk rating. … The script is fair, with Travolta getting the good lines. …The ending seals up the movie tightly, and clears up the loose ends.
Swordfish has some rough spots, as well. I’ve touched on some of these above, but a couple more are worth mentioning. …
Hugh Jackman does an adequate job in his main role as the down-and-out computer hacker hired by Gabriel Shear to break into government computers. Halle Berry is average as well with regards to her acting. With a movie with this much potential, stronger performances by Berry and Jackman could have made this movie a classic. …There are some questionable plot dynamics, especially towards the end. These are forgivable, but they do bring the movie down some. …A significant part of the movie involves computer hacking, and they get this stuff all wrong. Since computer stuff is almost always silly in movies, I am resigned to movie makers general incompetence in accurately dealing with it.
On the whole though, Swordfish is a refreshing and daring action thriller whose quick, twisting story carries the day. Recommended!
Swordfish was playing in theaters in early September, 2001. The film, which features terrorism and exploding buildings, was pulled from theaters because of the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Consistent Premise: 77
Body Count: Fair
Time to First Dead Body: Fast
Special Effects: 54
Overall: 78 (Recommended)