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Swordfish (2001) – Movie Review

Swordfish movie poster

Written by: Skip Woods
Directed by: Dominic Sena
Starring: John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones

My Advice: Matinee.

Gabriel (Travolta) is a man with a mission. Suffice to say that mission involves a lot of guns, cigars, high speed chases, and Halle Berry topless. But of course, those are the elements of all good missions. Anyway, the one thing this mission is lacking is a world-class hacker. Gabriel finds one in Stanley (Jackman), a burnt-out computer cowboy with an ex-wife and a daughter living in stepfatherly hell. Gabriel has something up his sleeve you see, and it involves a lot of money and an intricate plan to get at it. Hot on the trail of everybody is Agent Roberts (Cheadle). And of course, Vinnie Jones is quickly becoming the Danny Trejo of the next millennium.

[ad#longpost]This film is over-the-top, stupid and ludicrous–but what the hell, it satisfies. It’s typical action fare, albeit with some nifty effects and action sequences–but that’s not what carries the day. What carries the day is a fine performance from all of the four principals. Travolta proves that he’s a much better actor than he’s been letting us believe recently, but the true standout is Jackman. Here at Needcoffee we’re pleased as hell with the success story this guy is turning out to be. With good reason–even in a film that’s supposed to have little to no depth in it, the scenes between him and his daughter are very convincing. But as we all know, good acting alone does not a decent movie make. Thank God for the pretty much 90% kickass script from Woods. Zingers and clever dialogue spit out at you without ever seeming too much, although some situations (one in particular involving a car’s trunk–you’ll know it when they open it and start putting something together) are just too much even for a movie that’s designed to be too much. But considering how incongruous this is from the rest of the screenplay, I’m almost willing to chalk that up to rewrites and polishes. And of course, the computer jargon is all deplorable, but who goes to a movie like this to check technical accuracy? I’d almost rather go to a Bruckheimer flick expecting an effective romance.

What’s truly amazing is that this is the same director who gave us the unimaginably boring Gone in 60 Seconds. Just remember, there’s nothing wrong with silly–a good mindless popcorn flick accomplishes what it needs to do by Gabriel’s favorite subject: misdirection. Distract me so I forget how ridiculous the whole shebang is. This one pulled it off. See it on the big screen for maximum Claymore effect, but catch it one afternoon.

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