A covert counter-terrorist unit called Black Cell led by Gabriel Shear wants the money to help finance their war against international terrorism, but it's all locked away. Gabriel brings in ... Read allA covert counter-terrorist unit called Black Cell led by Gabriel Shear wants the money to help finance their war against international terrorism, but it's all locked away. Gabriel brings in convicted hacker Stanley Jobson to help him.A covert counter-terrorist unit called Black Cell led by Gabriel Shear wants the money to help finance their war against international terrorism, but it's all locked away. Gabriel brings in convicted hacker Stanley Jobson to help him.
The film starts off with a bang ... literally. A big-time action sequence to get out attention, then a flashback to show how the climax of the film came to pass. The out-of-order editing was actually effective and interesting, rather than seeming like yet another failed attempt to mimic Pulp Fiction and those other movies that brought attention to the idea of showing a film out of chronological order.
Jackman was great as computer hacker Stanley Jobson, devoted father who just happened to get brought down for computer-related felonies after hacking into and making public an FBI e-mail surveillance operation. Forbidden to even touch a computer for the rest of his days, he is lured back into the life by Travolta, who offers him $100,000 just to meet him (and take an interesting version of an initiation). Jackman is quickly becoming Hollywood A-list material, and with his performance in Swordfish, it's easy to see why. He can keep up with the smooth-talking, fast-moving Travolta as well as show enough emotion to make him seem like a real person and not just a run-of-the-mill action hero.
The plot of the film is fantastic. It's not just a typical heist film, or action plot where the hero has to save the hostages, blowing the hell out of the bad guys in the process. The plot is complex, interwoven, and has a point. The plot was crucial to keeping interest during the slow parts of the film. Starting out with an action sequence carries the danger of losing audience interest if not followed up by more and more action. Thankfully, the plot manages to retain interest during those points in the film where things aren't exploding and buses aren't flying through metropolitan airspace, suspended from a heavy loading chopper.
The best part about this film was the interractions between the characters. Stanley is a smart guy, and Gabriel's smarter. Just when Stanley (and the audience) thinks they have Gabriel in a tight spot, he'll surprise everyone with some improvised ingenuity. There are so many films in the action genre that result to dumbing down the smart villains, just so the hero of the story will look good when he comes up with a relatively weak solution to the complex plot. The villains often slip up or make some kind of fatal faux pas in judgment that allows the hero to triumph. There's none of that here. The hero and villain are both smart, and both stay that way until the very end.
This is a great summer movie. See it. See it twice or three times, even. If you're looking for high art or something that really speaks to you and changes the way you see the world, don't see it. But if you want to see a movie for the sake of entertainment and having a good time, Swordfish is the movie to go to. If Swordfish is any indication of the rest of this summer's big action blockbusters, we're certainly in good shape this year.
- Jun 9, 2001