Too much gloss can't hide a middling action thriller
There are, in my mind, two things that the film "Swordfish" is famous
for. The first is the fact that it features what I think is the most
beautiful car ever produced - the British-made TVR Tuscan. It's the
sort of car you'd like to see parked in your drive every morning, even
if you weren't going to drive it. The second is that it's the first
film that Halle Berry decided to get her baps out in and unnecessarily
so, as it turns out. While I debated with myself which one of the two
I'd rather look at, the film continued on it's crash-bang-wallop course
of international computer hackery and stylish but maniacal villains.
In "Swordfish", we enter the world of Gabriel Shear (John Travolta,
looking all the world like a 21st century Dracula) - renowned playboy,
super-fly criminal genius and determined to pull off the heist of the
century. He's James Bond, Shaft and Austin Powers in one, if you can
imagine so much ego fitting into an Armani suit. He recruits washed-up
former hacker Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) to provide various worm
programs and hacking expertise to steal 9.5 billion dollars from under
the US Government's nose. As you do. For Stanley, it's a no-win
situation. Enticed by the prospect of a major pay-off and custody of
his daughter from his ex-wife, Jobson would tell Gabriel to shove his
job if it wasn't for the mysterious but sexy Ginger (Halle Berry)
egging him on. And jitters are the last thing the ruthless Gabriel
Despite his enthusiasm for the picture, producer Joel Silver has gone
down a notch on my list of favourite people in Hollywood. This is as
disposable action as you can get, almost as if he's trying to out-do
Jerry Bruckheimer. The explosions are bigger, the stakes are higher
(nine and a half billion, for God's sake!) and the characters are
cooler. Or so he thinks. Truth is, the near-constant kaboom of special
effects and pyrotechnics drown out what might have been an intelligent
thriller. By the time of the ridiculous finale (which makes no sense at
all), you've already forgotten everything else. And aside from Jackman
and Travolta who have most of the dialogue, Berry and Gabriel's
henchman Marco (Vinnie Jones, bizarrely if your name's Marco) have next
to nothing to do. Berry strips and Jones grimaces like their lives
depended on it. Berry should know better but for the inexperienced
former soccer thug, this should be a lesson well learnt. But then
again, this didn't stop him from remaking "The Mean Machine".
As action films go, it is undeniably entertaining. The plot twists its
way around the action, revealing more about Gabriel and why he's such a
sanctimonious prat. And the set-pieces are also very impressive, if
slightly over the top. Simply by shooting a SUV can one cause the
vehicle not only to explode like the Manhatten project but also make
the now flaming wreckage flip through the sky like a Romanian gymnast.
Physics clearly don't apply in LA, like the strange time-bubble
surrounding the city which allows Gabriel to fly to Oregan and back in
less than an afternoon. Hmmm, says I. Clearly, the film-makers were
trying to make as entertaining a piece as possible but they over-did
it. Less is more, or so they say and it is advice Silver and director
Dominic Sena would be wise to listen to. Shame, really. That TVR is
mistyfi watch Safehouse movie
Wasn't really a fan of this movie.... John Travolta's character wasn't as believeable as his previous characters he has played..
sailor watch The Year Of Living Dangerously movie
very interesting movie.
joenemesis watch American Swing movie
Apart from the deliciously notorious scene with Halle Berry, this movie was made for me by the whole notion of a likeable intelligent hoodlum/terrorist. The opening sequence defines the whole movie, and remains for me one of the finest slo-mo devastation scenes ever..
silintang watch Lucky Country movie
the punisher a thriller movie wich played by john travolta as a drug dealer who kill a wife and a kid from a policeman.then ihe policeman get revenge.
haanssim watch TRON: Legacy movie
recruit the net 2.0.
the net the net 2.0.
i really like Halle,femme fatale,pardon my obvious love for beautiful women.grt movie though.
SALT Centers on a CIA officer who is fingered as a Russian sleeper spy. She eludes capture by superiors who are convinced... she is out to assassinate the president. While trying to reunite with her family, she struggles to prove someone else is the traitor..
Watch Dexter, was amazing 14 stars. Highly recommend "if these walls could talk 2".
Loved that movie. The computer science part is horrible except for one or two nice touches, but Halle Berry is fabulous, John Travolta amazing, and the picture alone would make the movie enjoyable..
I gave it a "3", and I was being generous!
It's easy perhaps to understand why films like this get made. Nominally
they're lightweight, action thrillers with a catchy theme. In this outing,
the theme is "hacking", the ability of some shady genius to get into
mainframe computers, anywhere, anytime, and work super-scams that will shift
millions of dollars - or in this case almost $10 billion - into the bank
account(s) of your choosing. It sounds harmless enough, but it all goes
badly wrong in "Swordfish", and what comes out the other end is a nasty,
stupidly obscene film. I have difficulty imagining why wealthy big-name
stars like John Travolta, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, and Hugh Jackman allow
themselves to be involved in this sort of enterprise. Do they really need
the money? If the answer is "yes", then can someone tell me just how much
money such people want or need?
This is not to say that the technical production values aren't high. They
are. The explosions are impressive, there are cars and bodies, and fragments
of bodies, flying through the air. There are fireballs. We have helicopters
zooming all over the place. Many people are picturesquely slaughtered. Good
technical stuff, indeed. And it was on the basis of the impressive optics
that I gave the film a 3, instead of a 1.
The film hits a low point shortly after the opening violent scenes. Ginger
(Halle Berry) tracks down Stanley-the-hacker (Hugh Jackman) in his
dilapidated trailer in Midland, Texas to make him an offer he can't possibly
refuse. A great big pile of money so that he can hire a super law firm to
help him get custody of his 10-year old daughter (who is ten going on
thirty-seven, but Hollywood kids are always special) from his sluttish wife,
who now lives with one of Hollywood's porn kings. (Intense moral drama
Ginger immediately impresses Stanley (and all of us) with her sparkling wit
and incisive intellect:
Stanley: If you'd told me you were coming I would have cleaned the place
Ginger: I didn't come here to suck your dick, Stanley.
Brilliant dialogue for the ages. How did "Swordfish" fail to get a
nomination for best original screenplay, I wonder? And later, rising to even
greater heights of taste and intelligence, the head honcho, Gabriel - no
angel, he, as we quickly discover - played by John Travolta, has a gun put
to Stanley's head and forces him to hack into a government site in 60
seconds, or his brains will be moved someplace else on the business end of a
heavy calibre slug. And to add more wit and tension to the scene - I guess -
a blond bimbo busily buries her head in Stanley's lap, and we know for
certain that she's not rummaging around for loose change. I guess this must
be director Dominic Sena's notion of a climactic scene.
And, so on. The plot is wildly improbable and stupid but it at least unfolds
rapidly, thus minimising brain damage to the viewer. Probably the best
scenes belong to Jackman, an actor of talent and potential range who only
needs to develop a degree of taste and judgement in his roles. (But then he
did go on to make "Kate & Leopold", didn't he?) Travolta, who is also
talented, if not as much as he thinks, walks through the film doing a kind
of reprise of his Chili Palmer role from "Get Shorty" - a vastly superior
film - but with an overlay of nastiness here that does him no credit
whatever. As for Halle Berry - well, she looks great, just as she did in
"Monster's Ball", and as in that film, she mostly acts with breasts and
crotch. But, as we used to say in the military - "If you've got em, smoke
At film's end, I guess we're supposed to conclude that Gabriel is a
mis-directed super-patriot, a true son of J. Edgar Hoover's resident
paranoia, and he wants to rid his country of the threat of terrorism,
apparently by being the toughest terrorist on the global block: "If they
blow up a church, I'll blow up ten churches! Hell, I can buy a nuclear
warhead in Minsk for $40 million; if I buy six I can get a discount." So,
yes, the film appears to be telling us, let's make sure this lunatic
anti-hero gets his hands on $10 billion so he can buy all kinds of ordnance
and bring the bad guys to heel. Why not? It works for Israel, doesn't it? It
doesn't? Darn! And at film's end, after wiping out quite a few innocent
people, Gabriel does get his $10 billion, and the voice-over tells us that
hitherto untouchable terrorists are now dying like flies in a winter chill.
The viewer is left with the impression that, chaos and dead innocents aside,
Gabriel is just the kind of guy we need - or American super-patriots think
they need - to set the world to rights. Gabe even gets Ginger, the dishy, if
essentially vacuous, Halle Berry, to assist him and, one supposes, make his
bedsheets hum. Slaughter and sex are, after all, staple companions in this
kind of sad nonsense.
"Swordfish" was made before September 11, 2001. One wonders, in the
persistent pall of 9/11, and the mostly unanswered questions that atrocity
has raised, if such a film would be made today. One hopes not. But,
Hollywood being what it is, and what it too often is not, one suspects that
we have many more films like "Swordfish" in our collective future. And
that's a shame. The world's a complicated place, and it might actually help
if movie-makers would divert some of those millions of production dollars to
making intelligent films about complicated issues, rather than mindless
trash like this.