In a vain attempt to copy the success of The Matrix, Silver has delivered another turkey of a summer movie. In Swordfish, John Travolta -- who has the largest face in the world and looks like a troll with his Eurotrash haircut -- stars as Gabriel Shear, a mysterious member of an equally mysterious black-op/covert government agency run by a U.S. Senator (Sam Shepard in one of his worse roles to date). And Gabriel is need of a hacker to, ahem, "construct a worm program, pop the firewall, upload the Trojan horse worm, and download the funds" from some shady backdoor government account with a $9 billion balance in order to fund some type of covert war on anti-American terrorism.
Enter Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman, looking more like Steve McQueen than a pasty-faced, Twinkie-eating hacker geek) -- an excommunicated hacker stuck in a trailer park who only drinks a certain beer from Holland. One of Gabriel's "assistants," Ginger (Halle Berry), shows up, tosses Stanley $100,000 just to meet Gabriel, and promises to get Stanley back his daughter, whom he is unable to see because he's a felon. And then the whole thing falls apart quicker than a denial of service attack on the White House web site.
Gabe and Stan meet. Gabe's cronies hold a gun to Stan's head while Gabe goads Stan into breaking into the DoD within 60 seconds. Dark-glassed men in SUVs then hunt down Gabe as he blows everything up on Ventura Blvd. waving an M-60 around. Don Cheadle then shows up as the token black cop who really has no point to even be in the story except as "the burned-out cop looking for some retribution." I'll stop here... don't want to give away the "surprise" ending!
The film is slow, plodding along like a video game for the mentally challenged. Only the two big action scenes come in as strong -- but totally unbelievable -- sequences to bookend the movie.
But Travolta is the biggest flop in the movie, namely because he has the acting chops of a Smurf. He draws the energy out of every scene he's in, seeming distracted and uninterested in the role. Jackman does a credible job with the poor dialogue tossed his way and handles himself well within the action scenes, just like his turn in X-Men.
Visually, Swordfish is a mixed bag. The first 20 minutes of the film are sharp and ante up one of the most amazing explosions captured on film. The saturated yellows and greens gives the film an ultra-slick look, and the direction by Dominic Sena (Gone in Sixty Seconds, Kalifornia) is decent but feels driven by the "vision" of Joel Silver. The script, of course, is terrible -- laced with buzzwords ripped from Wired magazine, a writ-large computer hacker's wet dream of beautiful women, tons of cash, and Halle Berry naked on a patio chair.
Swordfish is a glossy, spy/action/suspense vehicle that leaves you feeling like you got the wrong end of the hook once again by a high-profile summer Hollywood movie juggernaut's ad campaign. Let's hope that most moviegoers don't take the bait this time out.
Run time: 99 mins
In Theaters: Friday 8th June 2001
Box Office USA: $68.8M
Box Office Worldwide: $69.8M
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Production compaines: Warner Bros. Pictures, Village Roadshow Pictures, Silver Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 1.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 26%
Fresh: 35 Rotten: 101
IMDB: 6.5 / 10
Director: Dominic Sena
Producer: Joel Silver, Jonathan D. Krane
Screenwriter: Skip Woods
Starring: John Travolta as Gabriel Shear, Hugh Jackman as Stanley Jobson, Halle Berry as Ginger Knowles, Don Cheadle as Agent J.T. Roberts, Sam Shepard as Senator James Reisman, Vinnie Jones as Marco, Drea de Matteo as Melissa, Rudolf Martin as Axl Torvalds, Zach Grenier as Assistant Director Bill Joy, Camryn Grimes as Holly Jobson, Angelo Pagan as Torres, Chic Daniel as SWAT Leader, Kirk B.R. Woller as Axl's Lawyer, Carmen Argenziano as Agent, Tim DeKay as Agent, Laura Lane as Helga, Tait Ruppert as Ad Agency Executive, Craig Braun as Coroner, William Mapother as Gabriel's Crew, Ilia Volok as Gabriel's Crew, Jonathan Fraser as Gabriel's Crew, Shawn Woods as Gabriel's Crew, Leo Lee as Gabriel's Crew, Marina Black as Hostage, Kerry Kletter as Hostage, Ryan Wulff as Hostage, Ann Travolta as Hostage, Margaret Travolta as Hostage, Dana Hee as Hostage, Denney Pierce as Hostage, Jeff Ramsey as Hostage, Joey Box as Hostage, Debbie Evans as Hostage, Samuel Travolta as Hostage, Tim Storms as Hostage, Jason Christopher as Club Kid, Jonathan Pessin as Club Kid, Scott Burkholder as FBI Geek, Mark Soper as FBI Geek, Craig Lally as Customs Agent, Rusty McClennon as Customs Agent, Mark Riccardi as Customs Agent, Debbie Entin as Helga's Friend, Natalia Sokolova as Helga's Friend, Anika Poitier as Helga's Friend, Nick Loren as Dark Suit, Tom Morris as Policeman, Richard Householder as Policeman, Michael Arias as Policeman, Brenda Eimers as Holly's Teacher, Timothy Omundson as Agent Thomas, Astrid Veillon as Bank Executive, Dean Rader Duval as Security Guard