USA 2001
director : Dominic Sena
script : Skip Woods
cinematography : Paul Cameron
editing : Stephen Rivkin
notable producers : Joel Silver, Skip Woods
lead actors : Hugh Jackman, John Travolta, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle
99 minutes

The best thing about Swordfish is its poster, in which a post-Battlefield Earth Travolta sulks in the middle distance like a disgraced schoolboy while Jackman basks in post-X-Men limelight at the front of the class. He’s Stanley, a nice-guy computer programmer with arms like ham shanks, roped into an uber-bank heist by uber-criminal Gabriel – Travolta with Pulp Fiction hair, Broken Arrow wisecracks, and N-SYNC chinny-beard.

As a numbnut uber-thug, Vinnie Jones has even less to do than in Sena’s Gone In 60 Seconds – and while that movie stayed watchable by observing its limitations, Swordfish blunders desperately into gratuitous excess. Too much is never, ever enough. A typical scene: Travolta tests Jackman’s keyboard skills by making him access a government uber-computer against the clock, holding a gun to his head. as a blonde uber-babe gives the Ocker hacker a blow job. When it isn’t pandering to the Loaded crowd, the script lurches between some absurdly uber set-pieces – including shenanigans with an LA bus clearly intended to out-speed Speed – before finally vanishing up its own uber-twistiness.

A shame, because some of the cast is genuinely uber (Don Cheadle! Sam Shepard!!) and Sena kicks off with a truly eye-popping uber-explosion. But he lathers everything in such glossy sepia that by the end you feel in need of an uber- shower. It’s as if the uber-gloop has somehow treacled out of the screen and into your pores like smoggy ectoplasm: what felt like an enjoyably silly thick-ear uber-actioner was, you realise, a tacky exercise in uber-crud.

For a more in depth review click here.

19th June, 2001

by Neil Young
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