Starring: John Travolta, Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, Don Cheadle, Vinnie Jones, Sam Shepard
Director: Dominic Sena
It’s easy to like John Travolta. Ever since his inspired comeback in 1994’s “Pulp Fiction”, he’s received acclaim for his turns in “Get Shorty”, “Face/Off” and “Primary Colors”. Of course there’s also been the significant shadow of the dismal “Broken Arrow”, “Michael” and “Battlefield Earth” along with low-key performances in “Mad City”, “The Generals Daughter” and “White Man’s Burden”. All in all, a mixed bag. Cue the big-budget cyber-thriller, “Swordfish” where director Dominic Sena (“Kalifornia”, “Gone in Sixty Seconds”) brings Travolta in alongside “X-Men” duo, Halle Berry and Hugh Jackman.
Gabriel Shear (Travolta) is a self-appointed anti-terrorist who hires a supreme computer hacker, Stan Jobson (Jackman) to aide the theft of a $9.5bn warchest that the DEA had left in a dormant bank account for 15 years. Jobson only agrees after Shear’s sidekick, Ginger (Berry), suggests that it may help him regain custody of his estranged daughter, Holly (Camyrn Grimes), who is in the clutches of her alcoholic mother. In order to do the job, Shear and his gang take over a downtown bank and wire explosives to hostages to ward off the feds, led by Agent Roberts (Cheadle – “Volcano”, “Boogie Nights”, “Mission to Mars”, “Traffic”). But with so much at stake, it is hard to trust anyone and boundaries move frequently.
Even describing this movie does not make it sound particularly enticing, and so it proves to be the case. This is probably the worst piece of big-screen celluloid garbage that I’ve seen in a long time (you can tell that I haven’t seen Travolta’s last few pieces of garbage). The only note-worthy scene in the whole movie (aside from the Halle Berry flash of course), is a 360-degree pan of the damage done by an exploding hostage. But hey, even that’s been done better before.
The story goes from uninspired, to silly, to ridiculous. The pathetic climax involving a helicopter and a school bus has to be seen to be believed. Performances are fairly average. Jackman and Berry were very entertaining in “X-Men”, but they look bored and anaemic here. Travolta snarls his way through another bad-guy role to amusing effect and Don Cheadle is probably the best thing on show here as the driven FBI agent.
A desperate mess.