SWORDFISH belly flops, a terrible script and aimless direction providing, for the kazumpteenth time, fake cool, needless violence and unpleasant characters. Three things make for fleeting interest in a few of its 99 minutes. One is a spectacularly filmed explosion, the other two are Halle Berry topless. “Swordfish, a Movie that Really Should have Been in 3-D.”
“You know what the problem with Hollywood is? They make shit. Unbelievable, unremarkable shit. Now I’m not some grungy wannabe filmmaker that’s searching for existentialism through a haze of bong smoke or something. No, it’s easy to pick apart bad acting, short-sighted directing, and a purely moronic stringing together of words that many of the studios term as “prose“.”
Those smug, self-prophetic lines are the first words spoken in the movie, and easily the best, as shady counter-terrorist mastermind ‘Gabriel’ (John Travolta) goes on an extended Tarantinian riff about the value of reality. Proving whatever-the-hell point he’s making, shortly thereafter a bomb goes off during a bank heist, shredding hostages, cops, cars and buildings with hundreds of ball-bearings. Director Dominic Sena films the carnage as if you’re in the center of it, using 200 synchronized still cameras for an incredibly complex slo-motion display that will impress you with its kinetic style even as it repels as darkly vicious voyeurism. All messed up with nowhere to go after that, the script by Skip Woods lurches for purpose, making less sense as it spins down, like a jet ski on full throttle with a jammed rudder.
Pointless waste of time and money; they lavished $102,000,000 on this splashy noise. Well, at least the $500,000 they paid Halle to drop her top—beyond, or out-front-of, her nominal 2mil fee—produced another impressive special effect moment. She peeked our boo for the sake of “overcoming her fear of nude scenes” (and an extra half-million Washington’s), but Hallie’s berries (it’s okay to say that because its such a crappy movie) are bared for naught but the passeth of another in a long line of “Once, God” sighs that may as well be blasted by hot metal spheres for all the cosmic good they do. *
Brazenly Beauteous Berry’s next role, and justifiable doff, was her lucky strike Monster’s Ball, where she repaid the emptiness of this paycheck and product big-time, winning her Oscar. Meanwhile, La Traviolta, The Man of A Thousand Career Rebounds, does another in his bulging gallery of happy villains with bad hair, and emergent big deal Hugh Jackman gets the duller good guy gig. Don Cheadle soldiers through in support. None of them are bad, it’s their material.
Along with the rest of its bruises, it’s yet another movie where people spend a good amount of screen-time fiddling with computer hacking, and, unless you’re the kind of Carpal Warrior geek who lives in cyberland, no amount of feverish editing and saturated color can make that as attention-spanning as bombs and bosoms. The flash-the-bang and flash-that-thang contrivance zapped poor reviews and a rip of $147,080,000, bad news considering the lofty price tag. With Sam Shepard, Vinnie Jones, Drea de Matteo, Zach Grenier, Camryn Grimes.
* Quasi-honestly, folks: lousy as this movie is, must your diligent watchdog pretend to feign any sort of disapproval for a professional gaze at Halle Berry’s breasts? It’s sadly symptomatic of an arse-backwards culture that it’s kosher to mull the fiery slow-motion detonation of a ball-bearing bomb, but those infernal mocha boobs sure better have some redeeming social value?