Director: Dominic Sena
USA - 2001
Well, I got to check out an early screening of Swordfish tonight. I must admit, I was not disappointed. John Travolta has created yet another masterful addition to his impressive streak of crap cinema. I’m no Criswell, but looking into the future, I see a slew of Look Who’s Talking sequels in store for our floundering superstar. It’s only a matter of time before Hollywood realizes that John Travolta is the box office equivalent of goat cheese.
The story (ha! I said “story!”) revolves around Stanley Jobson (Wolverine); a former computer hacker turned down-and-out gas station attendant. Having recently served a couple years in prison for dastardly computer crimes, Stanley has hit rock-bottom in his quest to win custody over his estranged daughter, Holly (Camryn Grimes), who now lives in California with her mother and stepfather (a porn film mogul of some sort).
Enter Ginger (Storm), a liaison to rich gangster-type Gabriel (that “Barbarino” guy). It seems that Gabriel is interested in acquiring Stanley’s formidable computer talents. Though he is reluctant at first to revert to his old ways, promises of big bucks and a chance to win back his daughter entices Jobson back into merciless grip of the seedy underworld. Naturally, Stanley soon finds himself in way over his head; having to contend with the homicidal Gabriel, a plot to steal nine and a half billion dollars, newfound feelings for the voluptuous Ginger, his psychotic ex-wife, as well as the cop who busted him all those years ago (Don Cheadle).
Director Dominic Sena, known for his extraordinary work with Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, constructs the entire film around stroking Travolta’s (apparently huge) ego. When Gabriel is introduced, the entire shot is in slow motion as he glides out from the driver’s seat of some ridiculously expensive sports car and into some ridiculously trendy night club. (Naturally, all the women stop and stare at Travolta’s suave entrance.) The rest of the film has John shooting cool guns, being ogled by beautiful women, as well as spouting off philosophical bullshit and witty (read: stupid) one-liners. The only thing more ludicrous than Travolta’s character is Travolta’s hair. Sure, a little bob haircut can look awfully cute – on a teenage girl. Travolta, on the other hand, looks like a reject from The Beatles. Worse yet, his “do” is accentuated by the stupidest goatee I’ve seen yet; a thin line of hair running from the lower lip over his chin. To be quite honest, it looked like a stray line of brown spittle from some chewing tobacco gone awry.
When not making fun of John Travolta, the viewer may also indulge in counting the number of plot inconsistencies throughout the story (Ha! I said it again!). After fingers and toes, I lost track.
The saddest part of Swordfish, however, is the waste of talent. I kinda like what little work I’ve seen of Hugh Jackman. Not only is he a solid actor, but he’s also very charismatic. I also like Vinnie Jones. Granted, he seems to be typecast in the role of perpetual tough guy, but he does it very well. To me, he was the best part of the highly-overrated Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels.
And why is it every time someone in a movie is hacking into a computer, the screens are always flashing with entertaining graphics? Little cubes floating around; numbers and letters flying to and fro; various neon colors floating here, there, and everywhere. Heck, I’ve even seen kooky little cartoon characters appear! Does the government install eye-popping graphics within all their complex, top secret code in order to make the monotonous task of computer hacking just a little more fun?
If I may, for a moment, regress down the evolutionary ladder, I must admit that Halle Berry - though not the greatest actress in the world - is simply gorgeous in this film. I’m really not too nutty about ogling Hollywood celebrities, but Berry is truly a knockout. Rumor has it she was paid an additional half a million dollars to go topless in Swordfish. Though, again, Berry is a beautiful woman, this is no reason to shell out eight bucks for a ticket. The moment is brief (especially considering its price tag), and if you wait long enough, the pics are bound to show up somewhere on the Internet (not that I’ll be looking).
Now, you may be thinking: “But Joe, I like these brainless action flicks! To me, nothing makes up for a lousy story more than huge explosions!”
Fair enough. Swordfish has its fair share of explosions and gunplay. I appreciate the ability of those who can turn their brains off at the theater door and enjoy a film as mere eye candy. Really, I do! But dammit, this movie is stupid. I could understand if they half-assed the plot in order to showcase some nifty special effects – but the effects just aren’t that nifty. I could also understand if they half-assed the plot in order to showcase some cool shootouts - but the shootouts are fairly lackluster, as well. Halle Berry aside, Swordfish has nothing going for it.So unless you have an acidic tongue and are eagerly looking forward to heading out to the local Cineplex to verbally rip John Travolta a new orifice, I strongly recommend avoiding Swordfish. If nothing else, wait for it to come out on DVD. Give it a month
- The film opens with John Travolta ranting about how, nowadays, Hollywood makes nothing but crap. (Sometimes it’s just too easy.)
- John Travolta’s goatee!
- While trying to elude the police, Stanley comes to a steep hillside and decides to roll his way to freedom. When Don Cheadle catches up, he decides to roll after his suspect. Then Cheadle’s partner shows up on the cliff’s edge, thinks for a moment, gives a “What the hey?” shrug, and rolls down after the both of them. This rolling chase scene lasts a full minute! (That’s sixty seconds of three morons rolling down a hill.)
- John Travolta’s hair!
- Was that exploding car on a trampoline of some sort?!
- John Travolta’s love affair – with himself.
- How it takes Swordfish approximately five minutes before it resorts to a Matrix-like action sequence.
- Halle Berry!- A twist ending that perfectly caps off an evening of having your intelligence insulted.
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