Swordfishin’

Benjamin Himes

          A year removed from Gone in 60 Seconds, director Dominic Sena takes his kinetic-aesthetic in the world of shadow government agencies with a touch of technology a la Hackers; in the form of the 2001 film Swordfish, starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, and Don Cheadle. If Gone in 60 Seconds is The Fast and the Furious with Nicolas Cage, then Swordfish is The Bourne Identity with John Travolta. These films have that certain texture and vibe where you know not to take the film seriously, just sit back and enjoy the ride.

The narrative is as intriguing as one would expect from an action film of this time. Maybe it has not has as well as a fine wine, as fine as the wine Scott (Jackman) searches for as he pre-maturely stumbles upon the film’s twist out of context. The film’s narrative resonated as a mix between Hackers and The Bourne Identity. Elements of Hackers come up when Scott does his hacker thing, side note, Hugh Jackman as hacker is about as believable as Chris Hemsworth in Blackhat; the challenges presented to Scott throughout the hacking scenes had that sense of ‘me vs. The Man’ feel as he does what he does to make the uppity government look like fools when compared to his ‘top notch skills.’ The Bourne Identity side of the resonance comes from the power plays and espionage carried out by Gabriel (Travolta) and Ginger (Berry), wheeling and dealing secret alliances and sabotage in order to keep all sides guessing until the third act.

The lack of believability keeps this film from traversing into Zack Snyder territory in that it is a hokey film that does not take itself too seriously, there is something about the way John Travolta and Halle Berry play off one another and the rest of the cast that gives it a zany feel. This is the bread and butter of a narrative cooked up to stimulate the adrenal glands. The creators’ of the film knew what their audience would expect: a semi-serious plot with ludicrous delivery that creates a package when, executed correctly, would undoubtedly garner positive word of mouth despite what critics and ratings might entail. Definitively, this is not a film that needs to thrive off of all that, if an audience member likes this film, they will tell everyone they know who has a penchant for action movies that this one will meet their fix.

The tone of Swordfish, while based in something as serious as armed robbery and government collusion, is off set by the performances of Travolta, Berry, Jackman, and Cheadle; which often times come off as exaggerated, do not distract from the overall experience, but enhances it. The tone is perfect for Swordfish, not as serious as The Bourne Identity yet not as silly as Face/Off, a popcorn flick that is not meant to garner deep thoughts. It is eye-candy, a fulfillment of a desire to escape to a world that does not have to make sense at certain points, where the action pulls us in and never lets us go!

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