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Swordfish (2001)

June. 08,2001
| Action Thriller Crime

Rogue agent Gabriel Shear is determined to get his mitts on $9 billion stashed in a secret Drug Enforcement Administration account. He wants the cash to fight terrorism, but lacks the computer skills necessary to hack into the government mainframe. Enter Stanley Jobson, a n'er-do-well encryption expert who can log into anything.


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'Swordfish' opens with what at first appears to be a bank robbery going horribly wrong; the police pull a hostage wearing an explosive jacket away from one of the criminals and she explodes causing major damage. We then jump back four days and see a computer hacker arrested coming into the United States; he is then killed while in FBI custody. A second hacker, Stanley Jobson, is approached by a beautiful woman, Ginger Knowles, and offered a job… at first he declines as he will be sent to jail if he so much as touches a computer but when offered $100,000 just to discuss the job he can't say no. After a rather extreme test of his skills he finds that his potential employer, Gabriel Shear, will pay him ten million dollars if he helps him steal over nine billion dollars from secret government slush funds. Shear states that he intends to use the money to fund a private war on terrorism. Things soon get very dangerous for Stanley; the FBI are closing in on him and Shear's backer wants to shut down the operation permanently. If that weren't enough it appears that Ginger is an undercover DEA agent.This film starts well with an intriguing prologue and the story provides plenty of action and excitement from start to finish. There are numerous explosions and shooting scenes as well as other tense moments. There are however moments that don't look that real; the first explosion may have looked great when the film was new but the CGI enhancements are fairly obvious and the hacking scenes are fairly painful to watch even people like me who know nothing about hacking know it wouldn't look like that… it was hard to believe Stanley was even typing rather than just pressing keys rather fast! At least the shootout while driving through LA was pretty cool and the way a bus was carried by a Skycrane helicopter was impressive. The cast did a solid job; Hugh Jackman was solid as Stanley, John Travolta hammed it up delightfully as Shear and Halle Berry impressed as Ginger… even if her topless sunbathing scene was an entirely gratuitous excuse to show her bare breasts. While his role wasn't that large Don Cheadle was fine as FBI Agent J.T. Roberts, it is a pity his role wasn't larger. Overall this is a decent enough action film which it entertaining if you can suspend your disbelief and ignore a few obvious flaws.


Swordfish is a brutal film with a poorly developed plot and a cast who seemed in it for the paycheck. The film opens up with an intriguing monologue from John Travolta about how movies are too typical, which led me to expect that this movie was really going for something different. Sadly, it ended up being very much like what Travolta was talking about, predictable. The cast is terrific, but there heart was not in the right place. There is a sense from the four main cast members that they were merely offered a nice contract to do this film, their is no feeling of them being inspired to take these roles whatsoever. It did not take any risks in plot development, every beat is expected, there is no moments that will its audience, there are very few surprises. A film can try to do something different with its direction and pacing, but that is not enough if the story is dull. Predictable and tedious, Swordfish is better off to be missed. The leader of a counter-terrorist organisation hires a convicted hacker to help him crack a code. Best Performance: Hugh Jackman / Worst Performance: Halle Berry


"Stanley" (Hugh Jackman) is a world-class hacker who has recently been tried in a court-of-law and put on a probation which not only requires him to notify the law prior to leaving the state of Texas but also forbids him to use any computer devices as well. Not only that, but his wife has left him and taken their daughter to Los Angeles. Things are pretty bad. As a result he settles for a low-wage job in Midland and does the best that he can. However, one day a beautiful woman named "Ginger" (Halle Berry) comes to his home and offers him a sizable portion of money just to simply meet with her employer. Although he is reluctant at first he realizes that he cannot turn down the money being offered and goes to Los Angeles for the meeting. It's then that he meets a mysterious person named "Gabriel" (John Travolta) who essentially makes him an offer that he cannot refuse. What Stanley doesn't realize, however, is that both Gabriel and Ginger have secrets which are yet to be revealed and that the job is much more dangerous than he initially suspects. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this was an entertaining film mainly because of the action and suspense. Additionally, the presence of Halle Berry certainly didn't hurt either. Unfortunately, the plot lacked the necessary realism which resulted in some incredibly unbelievable scenes. Only in Hollywood. Yet in spite of it all I still found this film to be somewhat entertaining and I have rated it accordingly. Slightly above average.

Bradley Baum

This is the second dreadful film I have seen today, the first being The Other Woman. The script is virtually non-existent, the plot line makes no real sense, and the ending is absolutely terrible yet this drivel was given the green light! WHY?!?! The only way it could have been improved would have been to have lots more gratuitous shots of Halle Berry in lots of different underwear and lots of gratuitous shots of Halley Berry topless as seeing her breasts for the first time on film/in a film and in underwear (even though she was unfortunately wearing a thong) were easily the two best parts of this rubbish! Now for me to type the previous sentence just proves how bad this film is! Don't get me wrong here as lots of gratuitous shots of the delectable Halle Berry in any film she is in would always be lovely but in this film they really were the two best parts of the film! That has to tell you just how bad this film is as there are absolutely no other good parts! The ending leaves unanswered questions in your head that should not be there making a dreadful film even worse! AVOID AT ALL COSTS!