Swordfish

Swordfish

***

Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

On the plus side: John Travolta is back in his Pulp Fiction guise, Hugh Jackman emerges as the new Clint Eastwood and the stunts are thrilling. On the minus side: Halle Berry has been relegated to trophy babe, Vinnie Jones can't act and the plot peaks early.

With tongue in cheek, the movie can be enjoyed for all the silly reasons. As a traditional thriller, with a techno beat, it is slick and quick. Skip Woods' screenplay has moments of inspired humour. The opening shot of Travolta arguing the toss about Dog Day Afternoon is a case in point.

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Jackman plays the most infamous hacker in the history of computer espionage, who has done time in stir and now wants to go straight. His estranged wife is shacked up with a porn movie mogul in California, while he is stuck in the Texan hinterland, working as a grease monkey in a clapped-out oil field. All he thinks about is his daughter and how he can see her.

Travolta is a mystery man. He appears to have the kind of operation that James Bond's archenemy, Blofeld, would envy. "I can buy nuclear weapons in Minsk for 40million," he says. "I can buy half a dozen and get a discount." He's probably showing off, because his present scheme is to steal a mere $9million from the DEA. For this, he needs Jackman's skills, and so Berry is sent down to Texas to put pressure on the guy, who can't even open a laptop without infringing his parole.

In the end, Woods is too clever by half and the story goes pear-shaped, which is where director Dominic Sena stops pretending to make sense of it all and lets rip with heavy duty action. "I've had a pretty shitty day so far," Jackman says, "and it looks like it's getting worse." He's not kidding.

Travolta revels in his role. Mr Bad suits him and he has the charm to pull it off. Jackman, with or without his shirt, shows signs of being the next Aussie to make it into the Russell Crowe league. Berry is a sex object, when she deserves better. Thandie Newton in Mi2 had more going for her, which isn't saying much. As for Wimbledon FC's most famous, memories of Snatch have faded and the inscrutable face of Mr Jones remains blank. Typecast as the muscle, he doesn't have to do a great deal, but he does speak a few lines and then you know he should be selling fruit-and-veg from a stall off the Mile End Road.

Reviewed on: 25 Jul 2001
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Swordfish packshot
Super-hacker Hugh Jackman is induced to work for an out-of-control government agent John Travolta.
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Read more Swordfish reviews:

Stephen Carty ***
Symon Parsons *

Director: Dominic Sena

Writer: Skip Woods

Starring: John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Sam Shepard, Vinnie Jones, Drea de Matteo, Rudolf Martin, Zach Grenier, Camryn Grimes, Angelo Pagan

Year: 2001

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA

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