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IN SHORT: Storm gets naked. And the crowd cheered... [Rated R for violence, language, and some sexuality/nudity. 98 minutes]
Destitute hacker Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) is offered ten million dollars by sexy temptress Ginger Knowles (Halle Berry) to help a sleek thief Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) rip off the US government. He's an honest guy but he needs the cash for legal fees to win custody of his ten year old daughter, Holly (Camryn Grimes), from his drunkard ex-wife. And breathing down their throats, hot on the trail is Inspector Gerard is ace FBI Inspector Roberts (Don Cheadle).
No, it's not X-Men 2 (though this is the first pairing of any of our "mutant" actor friends since last year's film and last until the planned sequel comes to bear)
Ah, hell, who needs subplots or logical stories or anything resembling normal story structure when you can fill the screen with explosions and cool slow motion special effects shots?! The point being, the first ten minutes, give or take, of Swordfish culminate in a 360 degree slow motion digital explosion in which cars and buses and bodies are shredded by ball bearings propelled to hypersonic speeds by a C4 explosion. The effect is so cool that the cheers and applause that came from out preview audience were totally justified. It's all downhill from there, storywise, though the audience did cheer Halle Berry's bumpy parts, front and back, a couple of times. Again, from the male point of view, the applause was justified.
That's the thing about summertime popcorn flicks, folks. They don't have to be good, in anything close to the traditional sense. They just have to provide visceral thrills and as much bam! pow! for the buck as possible. In this sense only is it fair for the movie studio to prominently plug Swordfish's relation to The Matrix -- Joel Silver produced both flicks. Using that comparison, The Matrix is a Michaelangelo painting. Swordfish is a sketch any of us may have made in kindergarten. There's a gravely underdeveloped subplot involving a US Senator (Sam Shepard) which leads to characters we couldn't identify getting blown up good. The story, most of which is told in flashback, is so thin that we leaned over to a critic friend of ours and asked "Does any of this make sense?" His response? "Who cares?"
Travolta oozes smarm and self-confidence as the film wraps itself in the flag and tries to justify his actions as a kind of patriotism -- his theft of illegally gained government drug money will be used to assassinate terrorists and protect our way of life! He'll teach Jackman, who gets to flip from loser to winner to protective father to savior of all we hold dear, that Harry Houdini is the greatest role model an evil (unless he's good) mastermind can have. Halle Berry kicks loose enough pheromones to make every heterosexual male stick to his seat. The calm in the middle of the storm is Don Cheadle, who always manages to make something out of nothing, regardless of the film he is cast in. He, like Tony Shalhoub, is a name you should look for in the credits. You'll rarely go wrong if Don is in the cast.
We can explain Swordfish simply, in words of less than two syllables for easy mental digestion by brains besotted by beer and various other enhancements: Boom! Pow! Blam! Berry naked! Buy the big popcorn.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Nine Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Swordfish, he would have paid . . .
Yeah, I'm an old fart. No, I have no problem with popcorn movies but I do prefer at least three sentences worth of plot to go with my action sequences
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