Vroom vroom. Travolta and Jackman race around in a cool car...
dir Dominic Sena
scr Skip Woods
with John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones, Camryn Grimes, Sam Shepard, Rudolf Martin, Zach Grenier, Drea de Matteo, Nick Loren, Timothy Omundson
release US 25.May.01; UK 27.Jul.01

3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
password accepted From style-over-substance director Sena (Gone in 60 Seconds): another preposterous summer action movie, but at least this one is efficiently made and decently acted. Stanley (Jackman) is an ex-con super-hacker who's been court ordered to stay away from computers. Then the luscious Ginger (Berry) seductively lures him back for a big heist masterminded by the legendary Gabriel (Travolta). To ensure Stanley's involvement, his estranged daughter (Grimes) is used as bait. What follows is a seriously high-tech action thriller played out across a Los Angeles landscape dotted with flashy cars, slinky women and a tenacious cop (Cheadle).

It's utterly unbelievable from start to finish--we never for a moment buy into the increasingly twisty plot or the high-camp characters. Jackman is the only human being here, and as usual he plays the role perfectly (hammy Yankee accent notwithstanding). Travolta is great fun as the shady villain--muscly, creepy, edgy. Berry is wasted; she's initially feisty, then gratuitously topless, then just absent altogether. And Jones is hardly there at all in an abbreviated version of the very same role he played in Gone in 60 Seconds. Meanwhile, the big action sequences are impressive even though the technical stuff is absurd and underdeveloped (they seem to hope the general whizziness of it all will keep us from noticing). The story is stiff and anticlimactic, with mix-and-match plot points. At least it looks intelligent. And if we're going to have this kind of rubbish thrust at us by Hollywood all summer, at least this is consistently
themes, violence, language cert 15 27.Jun.01

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"This is an entertaining action thriller, but attempts to appear more substantial than it actually turns out to be. The type of Fight Club begin-with-the-end timeline that gets the explosive, budget-dominating climax scene in at the start is a move that risks audience disappointment. Fincher's Fight Club avoided this risk through a seriously intelligent plot, but Swordfish sadly fails here, turning a great climax into a deja vu anticlimax. In fact, the first half hour of the movie provides many promises that are later unfulfilled: after an arty yet fairly pointless lead into the first big bang, where Travolta openly states the old tricks of the action flick, director Sena then does little to turn those cliches around. Jackman is on fine form as the hacker brought in by the dazzling Halle Berry to help Travolta steal a few billion from the government, but claims that this is Travolta's finest role since Pulp Fiction are unfounded: the action sequences attempt to compete with those of a John Woo movie, but Travolta's role in Woo's Face/Off is far more menacing and skilfully carried out. Enjoyable, but distinctly three out of five." --James Cartledge, London 1.Aug.01
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall