Published Jun 01, 2001"Swordfish" is a tease. You settle in for an exciting evening that gets off to a raring start only to go limp. Not only limp, but it seems to blame you for its lack of performance.
The film is about what appears to be maniacal terrorist, Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) who hires the best hacker, Stan Jobson (Hugh Jackman) to gain access to millions of U.S. government dollars holed up in a bank. Jobson is found living in a trailer having just be released from federal prison after serving time for cyber crimes. Knowing he is desperate to see his estranged daughter, Holly (Camryn Grimes), one of Shear's underlings, Ginger (Halle Berry) promises he will have no problem doing so, if he agrees to work for her employer. After a tour of the "working conditions, Jobson enthusiastically starts his new job.
Shear delivers an interesting monologue to open the film, discussing the merits of Al Pacino's "Dog Day Afternoon" versus the usual flaccid Hollywood fare, claiming that the film failed to push the envelope. This scene was shot with a video look coming in and out of focus giving the audience a sense of unease. Promising even more, the shot pulls back to reveal the hostage situation we are in. Tension quickly mounts as a conflict arises. Then the money shot!
Too premature for my liking. As we sit and patiently watch director Domenic Sena ("Gone In Sixty Seconds") and writer Skip Woods ("Thursday") try to bring us up to speed, it becomes evident they are only interested in getting off on themselves and expect us to help them. Like the women in this film, we are there only to watch and serve. Even the Holly character, a mere child, is tarted up like the other women in the film. Absolutely none of the female characters have redeeming qualities let alone last names. This is remarkable since a good number of action films now feature strong female characters with personality and screen presence. The absence of such a character in "Swordfish" is a let down given the marketing pick up line that the film was produced by Bruce Berman who gave us "The Matrix" and "Angel Eyes." Both of these films featured reasonably strong female leads.
"Swordfish" is so bad, it isn't funny and it isn't a romp. The writing is confused and pointless. We have no real coherent idea what the point of anything is: why is Shear stealing money? What is his point? Why is Travolta still working? Who gave the "green light" on this waste of celluloid and why aren't they fired yet?
Save your rental money on this and rent the tired and true porn flick all frat boys pick up. Both films are cheap and nasty, except the porn flick has no pretensions of acting or scriptwriting or being worth the price of admission. "Swordfish" is a pathetic guy driving a SAAB trying to pick up women in bars: leave him there and buy a vibrator.