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Swordfish

Year: 2001
Director: Dominic Sena
Producer: Joel Silver
Cast: John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones
I once read that any movie about computer espionage is certain to fail because it's so hard to get visual drama out of someone typing at a computer (unless you can show everything on the screen, have it make sense to a mass audience and keep it the way computers really are). Or you go the ridiculous graphics route (as Swordfish does) portray a multi-screened NASA dashboard of a computer and have everything on screen happen in groovy graphics, thereby losing much of the realism.

The same problem plagues the rest of the movie. Despite all the hallmarks of being an edgy, underground hacker movie (which so many hacker/computer flicks promise but fail to deliver), it's a straight action movie.

A convicted hacker (Jackman) is approached by the walking wet dream villain's henchwoman (Berry) with an offer of huge money for the atypical 'last job'. Her charismatic terrorist boss (Travolta) explains that there's an (even more atypical) iron-clad network he wants to crack. The hero is drawn in to the world of high tech hijinks and the story goes from promising edgy thriller to ridiculous James Bond action spectacle.

When it culminates in the laughable dangling of a bus by a single axle from a helicopter, you know you've been had. The end, which apparently explains the villains' true identity and purpose (that they're highly skilled rogue terrorist hunters) doesn't explain anything and confuses everything.

All the acting is adequate, the finest performance by Berry's incredible breasts. Travolta is typically over the top trying desperately to be cool. Sidekick goon Vinnie Jones gives a hostage a trademark monologue in a tacky nod towards his Guy Ritchie roles that simply doesn't belong, and the whole thing falls far short.

Like in Chain Reaction, the money-shot explosion (the incredible slow tracking of the damage around the periphery) is a stand out in the beginning that the rest never lives up to.

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