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Laramie Movie Scope:
Swordfish

A shoot-em-up spy thriller

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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June 13, 2001 -- "Swordfish," an ends-justifies-the-means amoralistic spy thriller, is cold-hearted, but it has some spectacular special effects. Many of the characters, except for the likeable Stanley Jobson (played by Hugh Jackman of "X-Men"), are utter scum buckets.

John Travolta of "Battlefield Earth" stars as the enigmatic Gabriel Shear, a man who has changed his identity so many times he's forgotten who he really is. His partner, the lovely Ginger (Halle Berry of "X-Men"), is equally enigmatic. Only Jobson, one of the top hackers in the world, is who he seems, an ex-con trying to regain custody of his young daughter. The courts awarded custody of the daughter to her porn queen mother.

The story hits below the belt by putting the young girl in danger. There is some cleverness in the story, however, because it does twist and turn a bit. Ultimately, the story tips us off long before the ending, which comes as no surprise. There is a lot of violence in the film. There are bodies everywhere. In the end, it comes down to a heist. Although Shear makes the argument that he is a patriot, he is actually just a murderer and a crook. His argument that the way to stop violence in the world is with more violence is simplistic and unconvincing. That idea has been working like a charm in the Middle East lately.

With the exception of Jobson, his daughter and Agent A.D. Roberts (Don Cheadle of "Traffic"), most of the characters in the film are a waste of skin, the rest are pawns in Shear's hopelessly complex schemes. Many characters, like Marco the minion (Vinnie Jones of "Snatch") have no socially redeeming values. Jones was such a great character in "Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch." Here Jones is just a nasty, one-dimensional character. Yes, Halle Berry does appear topless in this film. There's that, for what it is worth, and she does a good acting job, too. There is a great sequence featuring a bus flying through the air. That's different. There are some decent action scenes, but the story is not believable. There is not enough substance to the film, or even enough mindless entertainment for me to recommend it. The film is slick, but unsatisfying. It rates a C.

Click here for links to places to buy this movie in video and/or DVD format, the soundtrack, books, even used videos, games and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2001 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)