A successful music video and TV commercial director, Dominic Sena joined the burgeoning ranks of TV ad-bred feature film helmers in the 1990s. Born in Ohio, Sena entered the media industry as a cameraman in the early '80s. Moving to music videos as well as TV ads in the mid-'80s, he earned a Grammy for his direction of Janet Jackson's "Rhythm Nation 1814" (1989) and continued to make award-winning TV spots, including several for Nike, throughout the 1990s. Bringing his visual panache to feature films, Sena earned praise for his debut, Kalifornia (1993). Though it did not attract as much attention as outlaw couple movies True Romance (1993) and Natural Born Killers (1994), Kalifornia's well-honed atmosphere of irony and claustrophobia, and strong performances from new stars Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis, as well as up-and-comers David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes, gained admirers. For his next feature, however, Sena followed in the footsteps of his Propaganda Films brethren Simon West and Michael Bay and made the flashy, Jerry Bruckheimer-engineered wannabe blockbuster Gone in 60 Seconds (2000). Based on the 1974 car heist flick, Sena's version featured an all-star cast, including 1990's Bruckheimer fixture Nicolas Cage, and copious slick car chases, but it failed to maintain the expected worldwide box-office momentum of such prior Cage-Bruckheimer movies as The Rock (1996) and Con Air (1997). Sena teamed with another hotshot producer -- Matrix guru Joel Silver -- in 2001 for the pyro-techno action thriller Swordfish, starring John Travolta.
Swordfish, however, did not live up to the cheeky promise of Travolta's opening spiel about Hollywood and Dog Day Afternoon (1975), devolving into a glossy but pedestrian action flick that wasted a sterling cast. Mirroring Gone in 60 Seconds' fate, Swordfish opened reasonably well, but failed to reach blockbuster status.