In present day California, computer hacker Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) is visited by the mysterious Ginger (Halle Berry), who asks him to help out with a complex plan organized by rogue government agent Gabriel Shear (John Travolta). Jobson has already been convicted once, and a second offence could land him in jail, However, when Ginger reveals the kind of reward he will receive if he comes aboard, he finds it difficult to resist. The plan is to hack into a bank computer system and redirect billions of dollars in order to fund Gabriel's counter-terrorist activities, but Ginger reveals herself to be an undercover agent for the DEA, and when his own daughter is kidnapped and used as insurance by the ruthless Gabriel, Stanley doesn't know which way to turn.
The sort of action thriller for which the phrase "high octane" could have been conceived, Swordfish
stars John Travolta as Gabriel Shear, an enigmatic criminal operator who is as admired as he is feared. Using sexy sidekick Ginger (Halle Berry) as bait, he pressgangs Stanley Jobson, (Hugh Jackman) the world's greatest computer hacker, into helping him relieve the world banking system of a few billion dollars to finance his own enterprises. Jackman agrees, on the promise that Travolta will help him regain custody of his daughter.
The numerous explosions and set-piece exchanges of high calibre gunfire tend at times to blowholes in the narrative fabric and sense of Swordfish, a film that nonetheless engages through its extravagant silliness. Vinnie Jones is under-used as a fearsome minder, a close-up of Halle Berry's breasts isn't entirely integral to the plotline, while Travolta enjoys himself as the dapper ringmaster of this orgy of techno-chaos, especially in scenes in which he blasts away a brace of pursuing assassins with improbable aplomb and during his opening, Tarantino-esque monologue. By the end, he has shown himself in his apparently true colours in such a way that events of September 11, 2001--although made prior to them--lent the film an eerie sense of prescience. --David Stubbs
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