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"Swordfish"

Directed by Dominic Sena ("Gone in Sixty Seconds").
Written by Skip Woods. 
Starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry and Don Cheadle.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  6/20/01 

Folks--

Halle Berry?  Shit negro...that's all you had to say!

Okay, it was more than Ms. Berry that got me to go and see "Swordfish" Wednesday night, making this the second movie that I have seen today.  Hey, when you want to review movies, you got to go see 'em, and since I have been in Jamaica so long, I have missed a lot of films!!

The movie's story features a world-class hacker named Stan (Hugh Jackman, who is turning up a lot since last year's "X-Men") who has been released from prison for computer crimes and lives in a trailer in the oil fields of Texas when the film opens.  Luckily for him, a beautiful woman named Ginger (Berry) shows up at his door and offers him a lot of cash to get back into hacking mainframes for her boss, a mysterious operative named Gabriel (John Travolta, looking much like he did in "Pulp Fiction").  Realizing that living in a trailer park pretty much blows--and, in exchange for his services, Gabriel is willing to pay him $10 million--Stan says okay and joins up with Gabriel's criminal activity.  The FBI is onto the scheme, and led by a former data crimes unit head (Don Cheadle, recently in "Traffic" but best in "Devil in a Blue Dress"), the government tries to shut down Gabriel's plans.

I liked a lot about "Swordfish", even if I had seen most of it before.  Jackman has got some real potential for stardom in this town; I can't tell what it is about him that I like, but I know that I like him and he has a cool about him that makes him easy on the eyes for the ladies.  The film is very well shot and there are enough laughs to keep the crowd involved when the action slows down.  The film's dialogue would be more interesting to me if I was one of the .001% of America that spends recreational time breaking down internet firewalls, but for me, not quite the case.  Halle does bare some breast in the film, but after just coming back from Hedonism III, naked breasts just seemed some passe!  Travolta waltzes through this film looking cool and reads his lines like a machine, making me think that he walked onto the set and was just handed a large bag of cash to star in the movie.  Maybe he'll act next time.

Speaking of slow action, "Swordfish" has surprisingly little of it, and this is the main disappointment of the film.  You get the feeling from the trailer that you are going to get a heavy dose of action, but besides a ridiculous car chase sequence where Travolta's Gabriel lays down military firepower (he keeps a chain gun in the trunk of his Stealth, "just in case") on oncoming agents, there is not much in the form of action to speak of...unless you count watching Jackman's Stan take down mainframes from a comfy office chair.

Almost all style and very little substance, "Swordfish" personifies the quintessential summer movie.  You could do worse, but you can do a hell of a lot better, too.

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09