What You Need To Know:
SWORDFISH blows up things really well. Regrettably, however, it takes the sensational route in its portrayal of action, sex and nudity. Thus, when an innocent victim gets blown to pieces and Ginger exposes her breasts, some viewers in the audience cheered heartily. Only Hugh Jackman’s Stanley character seems to have some remaining positive sense of concern for other people. MOVIEGUIDE® only prays that viewers watching this movie will come away with Stanley’s attitude and not Gabriel or Ginger’s. We’re placing no bets on that outcome, however, and not just because we oppose gambling.
(PaPa, B, LLL, VVV, SS, NN, A, D, MM) Pagan worldview with a touch of moral nihilism & some moral elements reflected in the “hero” & in one police official; 55 obscenities, 6 profanities & obscene gestures; strong action violence, including people blown up, intense gunfire, car crashes, explosions, attempted strangulation, assassination, & threats; depicted oral sex & people use sexuality to get what they want; upper & rear female nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, stealing, illegal computer hacking, mother uses court to withhold all visiting privileges by father of daughter, & villain believes the ends justifies the means (but this is not entirely rebuked, if at all).
SWORDFISH is an explosive thriller with an attitude. Though well-made, its cynical attitude leaves a sour taste in one’s mouth, in more ways than one. Not only is the action explosive, so is the movie’s sexuality and thematic structure.
John Travolta plays Gabriel Shear, a charismatic and dangerous spy wanting to finance his own brand of patriotism, by any means necessary. Gabriel is itching to infiltrate the world of cyberspace, where billions in illegal government funds wait for the taking. To steal the money, however, he needs a superhacker, someone who makes getting into the most airtight computer security systems look like child’s play.
That’s where Stanley Jobson, played by Hugh Jackman of X-MEN, enters the picture. One of the best hackers on the planet, Stanley has been forbidden to get within 50 yards of the nearest electronics store after he was caught destroying what he considered to be an immoral government surveillance system. As a result, however, Stanley lost his wife, his daughter and his freedom. He now lives in a broken-down trailer in an oil yard.
Gabriel’s beautiful partner Ginger, played by Halle Berry, recruits Stanley for Gabriel’s nefarious plans. They offer him enough money to hire a good lawyer to get his daughter away from his wife, who is now married to a leader in the pornography industry in Southern California. Once Stanley enters Gabriel’s world, he realizes that nothing in the operation is what it seems, and he has become the pawn in a plot that’s a lot more sinister than a high-tech bank heist. He also finds himself in an ultra-violent world that not only threatens his life, but that of his daughter as well.
SWORDFISH opens with a chilling monologue from Travolta’s character, where it becomes clear that, to Gabriel, human life is cheap, especially when measured against his own self-righteous goals. The story provides explosive evidence of Gabriel’s attitude seconds later. Soon thereafter, the movie also crudely shows viewers that both Gabriel and Ginger will use sex to get what they want. Only Hugh Jackman’s Stanley character seems to have some remaining positive sense of concern for other people, although his main goal is reuniting with Holly and keeping her safe, not only from Gabriel but also from her pornographer stepfather. The filmmakers seem to admire Travolta’s character more than they do Jackman’s; their primary goal seems to titillate viewers with sensationalism rather than enlighten them. Of course, today’s action movies often flirt with this kind of attitude, but not so blatantly as here.
MOVIEGUIDE® only prays that viewers watching this movie will come away with Stanley’s attitude and not Gabriel or Ginger’s. We’re placing no bets on that outcome, however, and not just because we oppose gambling.