Swordfish (2001)

Genres - Crime, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Caper, Crime Thriller  |   Release Date - Jun 8, 2001 (USA)  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - Australia , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Dominic Sena's rigorously dumb techno-thriller is crafted with enough brevity and what-the-hell, B-movie attitude to almost make up for its deficit in the idea department -- almost. Not so much a director's picture or star vehicle as it is a super-deluxe producer's display case, Swordfish reeks of the influence of Matrix mogul Joel Silver: There's the beefy, virtuous, monosyllabic hacker-geek (here played by Hugh Jackman); the hilariously retrograde Madonna/whore female characters (as represented by Halle Berry, trying her hardest to be icy); and the freeze-framed, digitally trumped-up, 360-degree action sequences (done to comic excess here). John Travolta's mincing baddy routine is just passable enough to reverse the downward spiral he began in 2000: It's neither as terrible as his fey Psychlo patriarch in Battlefield Earth nor as good as his intentionally hammy Nicolas Cage impersonation in Face/Off. For their parts, Berry, Jackman, and the underused Don Cheadle and Vinnie Jones make the most of the scraps thrown them by screenwriter Skip Woods, who saves the bulk of his excruciatingly self-referential monologues for Travolta. Though Sena threatens to lapse into the arrhythmia that plagued his first two features (the tedious Kalifornia and Gone in 60 Seconds), he neatly sandwiches his action set pieces between snippets of virtual crotch-grabbing and simulated fellatio, and the whole ordeal is gone in under 100 minutes. Hypersexed 13-year-olds -- or hypersexed 13-year-olds at heart -- should have a ball.