Looks can be deceiving. That would be an apt phrase to describe the entirety of Swordfish seeing as director Dominic Sena refuses to let his film be viewed as just another walk in the park. Lest we confuse the film for brainless (which it is), we can count on the anecdote-happy character played by Travolta to offer Cliff Notes-interpretations for the layman-on-the-go on everything from the difference between ethics and morality to Dog Day Afternoon. Mind you, Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) isn’t here to play film professor and Swordfish is far from being a film-on-film treatise. His deconstruction of Sidney Lumet’s classic robber picture is a mere red herring of sorts. Seemingly out-of-place, the reference only becomes clear by film’s end, when Sena somewhat takes Gabriel’s revisionist thinking to task. But, even then, one must wonder what the fuss is all about: does Sena actually believe that Swordfish is the only film ever made where the bad guy walks away a free man? Gabriel has borrowed beefy Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) to hack into a couple of systems and move some cash around. Jobson is prohibited from seeing his daughter due to his criminal record and a pesky restraining order. Help Gabriel out and he may just see his daughter. Jobson goes to work, cracking a couple of codes while getting his dick sucked by tequilla-chugging whores. Sena shamelessly reaches for a larger demographic this time around, catering not only to chauvinist pigs but horny gals and trance-happy club kids. Lipstick lesbians kiss and paw at each other while Travolta walks into a room with Paul Oakenfold’s trance music playing in the background. Sans pocket protector and taped up glasses, Jackman’s Gabriel is a computer hacker for the Playgirl generation. An Armani-clad Halle Berry throws artistic integrity out the door, breaking out into spontaneous T&A exhibitions with am-I-good-or-am-I-naughty care. Clever death sequences aside (see the awesome two-way mirror bit), Swordfish is frenzied Hollywood glamorization at its most amoral, tailor-made for blockbuster success and the violence-thirsty layman. Job well done!
- Dominic Sena
- Skip Woods
- John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones, Camryn Grimes, Sam Shepard
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