After directing Kalifornia in 1993, Dominic Sena took a long break until he directed the 2000 Nicolas Cage action vehicle, Gone in 60 Seconds, a remake of the 1974 original movie. Next, Sena directs John Travolta, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman and Don Cheadle in Swordfish co-produced by action veteran Joel Silver (Matrix, DieHard series).
Travolta revels his antagonistic role as Gabriel Shear, a rich and mysterious tycoon who flaunts his power all over the place (how he keeps avoiding the authorities I don’t know). His new quest puts all the characters in cartoon-like, but entertaining situations full of action and thrills.
Enter Stanley Jobson, played by Jackman, a mild mannered computer genius who finds himself in a new environment with eclectic characters including the Ginger (Berry). Stanley functions as the locomotive of the very active story as he points and/or misdirects the audience to some surprises and thrills within the story.
X-Men alums Jackman and Berry have good chemistry on screen together which helps the movie get the audience involved, but side stories involving Stan’s daughter and government conspiracies don’t. Another key element of the level of audience involvement and character development is measured by your reaction to tragic actions and certain characters’ deaths. Only one character and one extra reach the audience on a high emotional level in this area, but to be fair, that’s not really the movie’s key goal. Still, it would make the movie stronger, especially in the story, to equal the high level of star appeal and entertainment value in Swordfish.
Cheadle plays federal agent A.D. Roberts and Sam Shepherd also stars in a small, but vital role as U.S. Senator Reisman. Both roles aren’t prominent enough to equal these actors talents, but they make the most of their roles. The most disappointing supporting role comes from ex-soccer player Vinnie Jones (Lock, Stock & Two Barrels, Snatch) who gets vastly underused in the story and only gets one key line of dialogue which is hard to understand. You feel like he was placed in the role only for his notoriety (probably was) because he doesn’t get much to do at all.
The story written by Skip Woods shouldn’t confuse most audience members and has elements previously seen in action movies, but still has enough original concepts and elements to keep the audience involved.
Swordfish has a high impact beginning which is never really equaled emotionally or visually for the reminder of the movie. Recommended with a few reservations (**1/2 out of four stars) and rated R for language, nudity, and violence.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler