Film Reviews


By • Jun 8th, 2001 •

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SWORDFISH, director Dominic Sena’s homage to blowing things up, the blowjob, and gorgeous special effects excess, is not based on reality. That said, we now know men like Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) do exist, live above all laws, get away with stealing mega-millions, and buy presidential pardons. To enjoy this movie one has to set aside the prejudice of demanding realism, which can be boring and tedious, and be willing to be entertained by clever dialogue, a breathtaking action sequence involving 135 still cameras, and the star magnetism of Travolta.

Travolta, looking thin in most scenes, plays a character who is deliciously evil and morally bankrupt, but he has a higher purpose! He must preserve the American Way of Life and stamp out international terrorism. This takes a lot of money. While it may be wacky to us, he does have a philosophical agenda that he will execute no matter how many innocent people get killed, just like The Children’s Crusade – without the religion part. Travolta delights in his character’s self-idolatry: long hair and soul patch, custom-made clothes, and a fierce commitment to fascism (or is it fanaticism?). He’s right and the rest of the world be damned. Gabriel’s assistant Ginger (remember, nobody is what they appear to be!) is the now very expensive topless actress Halle Berry. (The bar on nudity has been set and it has a big dollar figure. Think about it: Jessica Lange went topless in TITUS for no money at all!)

I like the Skip Woods script: great lines and he gives us a very good reason why Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) reluctantly agrees to help Gabriel steal 9 billion dollars. His daughter is living in Hell with his rich, porn performer ex-wife. Gabriel wants Stanley to do something big and nasty in cyberworld. It involves firewalls, back doors, worms, and really fast typing. The movie begins explosively with a bank heist in progress and moves backward and forward in time. It opens with Travolta pontificating about DOG DAY AFTERNOON. And he’s making sense! (Well, at least he was to everyone in the audience).

Putting aside all the right and logical reasons to slam this film, it’s big Summer fun and makes Sena’s GONE IN 60 SECONDS look like a long day in driver’s education school.

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