A few years ago, John Travolta was unstoppable. With hits like Phenomenon, Broken Arrow, and Face/Off, he was Mr. Hollywood. Until 2000, the bane of his existence. Battlefield Earth, in which he starred, was one of the worst movies ever made. It flopped because of that. His next movie, Lucky Numbers, flopped. I was sure Swordfish, judging by the previews, was going to continue his skid, but I was wrong. It made the number one spot in the box office, and it even surprised me.
Swordfish is smarter than it lets on. The dialogue is slick, the action is loud and intense, and the acting isn't that bad either. It is the first movie I can think of that has successfully mimicked The Matrix's camera tricks without making it look like it is mimicking it. The camera trick only happens once, but it is an intense moment as we get to see, from a 360 degree rotation, bodies and buildings get blown apart. That is just the beginning.
Swordfish delves into an underworld of crime and corruption, and into the life of a hacker, played by Hugh Jackman (X-Men's Wolverine). He is hired by a criminal mastermind (John Travolta) to create a hacking program. What results from all this is a racy and surprisingly intricate plot with some good twists and exciting action scenes. I won't go as far to say that Swordfish is anywhere near the best action movie, but it was definitely a sigh of relief in this stagnant summer.
I have been waiting a long time for a good, R-rated action movie with violence, nudity, and everything else, and Swordfish satisfies my appetite.
There are a few small problems. After the opening action sequence, Swordfish flashes back four days. When it finally reaches the point where the beginning sequence started, the movie seemingly cuts out a whole segment of the story (how did Jackman know where Travolta was?). There are also a few dialogue blips here and there (saying just, "Thank you," after Jackman receives ten million dollars).
Swordifsh is a hip, stylish, and entertaining action movie, the first real serious action movie of the 21st century. It is not the best ever created, but in a period of bland films, it is a shining star.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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