FILM OF THE MONTH

From Aug 2001
Film Review

Also recommended: Together other July releases

Film Review Hotline
SWORDFISH
4 Stars- Recommended

Travolta and Vinnie Jones, no less, in Swordfish

A fin-tastic thriller for Travolta!

VOICES: John Travolta, Hugh Jackman
Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones

DIRECTORS: Dominic Sena
SCREENPLAY:
Skip Woods
CERTIFICATE: 15
DISTRIBUTOR & Image copyright: Warners
RUNNING TIME: 1hr 39mins
OPENING DATE (UK): July 27

No, it’s not a new type of credit card. Nor is it the fish with the rather menacing visage. Swordfish here is a covert world protected by the biggest and best computers, a place where dreams might come true and where nightmares are created. Ace hacker Stanley Jobson (Jackman) is reluctantly recruited to break into this world, and transfer billions in illegal government funds at the behest of ruthless spy Gabriel Shear (Travolta).

Sporting gratuitous facial hair and the ultra cool self-confidence of a man used to getting his own way, Gabriel works to his own particular agenda. He knows how to persuade Stanley to do what he wants, through the daughter he adores, but, despite his assurances, he is surely not a man to be trusted.

Opening with a brief exchange that might be seen as a little in-joke for anyone who suffered through Battlefield Earth, the film establishes its action credentials early on. In a ‘Matrix with bells on’ sequence, the camera goes on an extraordinary tracking shot through a massive explosion, and is so good that it’s reprised later on. But underlying that set piece there is a slickly-crafted plot, simple yet compelling, and a clutch of strong performances from Travolta (back on top form here), Jackman, Berry and Cheadle. Vinnie Jones lends a bit of muscle in support, which is no great stretch, but looks comfortable in this exalted company.

Director Dominic Sena worked with our Vinnie last year on Gone in 60 Seconds, but where that film was rather limp and washed-out, Swordfish is vibrant, exciting and highly entertaining. Computer hacking is not usually one of those ingredients that makes for a hit movie, as recent examples like Hackers and Anti Trust proved.

Here, though, computer jiggery-pokery is a plot detail rather than the entire basis of the story. Screenwriter Skip Woods establishes the danger through the initial explosion, creates the essential conflict between the characters, and then draws tension out of the dangerous circumstance that Stanley – a relative innocent – finds himself in. It may not quite be Hitchcock, but Swordfish clearly aspires to that standard and comes impressively close to achieving it.

Anwar Brett

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Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

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4 Stars; Recommended
TOGETHER • released July 13

FULL DETAILS AND REVIEWS OF ALL THESE AND MORE IN THIS ISSUE

5 Stars; Excellent
AIMÉE AND JAGUAR
July 06
SOLAS [ALONE]
July 20

4 Stars; Recommended
À L'ATTAQUE! July 20
EVOLUTION June 22
URBAN GHOST STORY July 13
WHIPPED July 13