Too much gloss can't hide a middling action thriller - 53%5/10
There are, in my mind, two things that the film "Swordfish" is famous for. The first is the fact that it features what I think is the most beautiful car ever produced - the British-made TVR Tuscan. It's the sort of car you'd like to see parked in your drive every morning, even if you weren't going to drive it. The second is that it's the first film that Halle Berry decided to get her baps out in and unnecessarily so, as it turns out. While I debated with myself which one of the two I'd rather look at, the film continued on it's crash-bang-wallop course of international computer hackery and stylish but maniacal villains.
In "Swordfish", we enter the world of Gabriel Shear (John Travolta, looking all the world like a 21st century Dracula) - renowned playboy, super-fly criminal genius and determined to pull off the heist of the century. He's James Bond, Shaft and Austin Powers in one, if you can imagine so much ego fitting into an Armani suit. He recruits washed-up former hacker Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) to provide various worm programs and hacking expertise to steal 9.5 billion dollars from under the US Government's nose. As you do. For Stanley, it's a no-win situation. Enticed by the prospect of a major pay-off and custody of his daughter from his ex-wife, Jobson would tell Gabriel to shove his job if it wasn't for the mysterious but sexy Ginger (Halle Berry) egging him on. And jitters are the last thing the ruthless Gabriel needs.
Despite his enthusiasm for the picture, producer Joel Silver has gone down a notch on my list of favourite people in Hollywood. This is as disposable action as you can get, almost as if he's trying to out-do Jerry Bruckheimer. The explosions are bigger, the stakes are higher (nine and a half billion, for God's sake!) and the characters are cooler. Or so he thinks. Truth is, the near-constant kaboom of special effects and pyrotechnics drown out what might have been an intelligent thriller. By the time of the ridiculous finale (which makes no sense at all), you've already forgotten everything else. And aside from Jackman and Travolta who have most of the dialogue, Berry and Gabriel's henchman Marco (Vinnie Jones, bizarrely if your name's Marco) have next to nothing to do. Berry strips and Jones grimaces like their lives depended on it. Berry should know better but for the inexperienced former soccer thug, this should be a lesson well learnt. But then again, this didn't stop him from remaking "The Mean Machine".
As action films go, it is undeniably entertaining. The plot twists its way around the action, revealing more about Gabriel and why he's such a sanctimonious prat. And the set-pieces are also very impressive, if slightly over the top. Simply by shooting a SUV can one cause the vehicle not only to explode like the Manhatten project but also make the now flaming wreckage flip through the sky like a Romanian gymnast. Physics clearly don't apply in LA, like the strange time-bubble surrounding the city which allows Gabriel to fly to Oregan and back in less than an afternoon. Hmmm, says I. Clearly, the film-makers were trying to make as entertaining a piece as possible but they over-did it. Less is more, or so they say and it is advice Silver and director Dominic Sena would be wise to listen to. Shame, really. That TVR is just gorgeous...