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Swordfish (2001)

Log on. Hack in. Go anywhere. Steal everything.

Rating: 7/10

Running Time: 96 minutes

UK Certificate: 15


John Travolta stars as the suave but intimidating Gabriel Shear, leader of a covert counter-terrorist unit called Black Cell. When the US Drug Enforcement Administration shut down an operation involving dummy corporations, which was codenamed Swordfish, they had a surplus of $400 million. Left to itself, interest accrued on this government slush fund until it totalled $9.5 billion. Shear intends to steal the money to finance a violent and extreme response to international terrorism, but needs a top cracker to help him get it.

To this end, Shear acquires the services of Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) by blackmail. Jobson is on parole and him even so much as touching a computer is a violation, so this is a great risk. However, the money that he is offered would be enough for him to get the lawyers he needs to help him regain access to his daughter from his ex-wife. The unlikely partnership of Shear and Jobson are not going to find their job easy however, as they are being pursued by a cynical cyber-crimes investigator called Roberts (Don Cheadle) who intends to catch up with them no matter what it takes.

'Swordfish' looks wonderful and has a fine cast, but could have been a better film than it is. That's not to say it isn't a good film – it's a fun actioner providing plenty of entertainment – but it could have been a great one. The film is stylish and full of well-directed action, with outstanding special effects which are made all the more impressive because they are rarely overused. The strong cast do a fine job with their roles, and the characters are allowed to develop some depth and complexity. The plot sometimes descends into silliness, superficiality or irrelevancy, which is unfortunate because the rest of the time it is tightly written and full of thrilling twists and turns. The technobabble is also a little overdone – those who are computer-savvy enough to understand it will know it's mostly fiction and eventually tire of it, while those who have no idea what it means will simply be bored by it.

It's Got: Wonderful action and stylish violence.

It Needs: Less technobabble and more coherence to the script.

DVD Extras The alternate endings are an interesting addition. Extras: Directors commentary, Documentaries, Alternate endings, Trailer. DVD-ROM Extras: Become a superhacker, Links, Access to online events. DVD Extras Rating: 7/10


Decent thriller with some fabulous cinematography and lots of action.