“Swordfish” is a very average heist film. I am hyper-critical of this genre because it is my favorite, and this film made the mistake of being released in the same era as the superior “Ocean’s Eleven” and “The Italian Job.” Unlike these mindbenders, “Swordfish” is unoriginal and its shock-value sexual content and profanity fails to mask the stereotypical plot and characters. The highlight of the film is John Travolta’s opening monologue. It gives us some perspective into the peculiar brain of his character while providing a glimpse of the bank robbery, only to halt the story’s climax with a flashback. If you watched the first ten minutes of the film then shut it off, you would assume that it is a classic. You would also be very lucky. Unfortunately, the other ninety minutes of the film (and more of Halle Berry than we need to see) undo the magnificent setup. The discussion of “Dog Day Afternoon” is great for film fans and prepares us for the theme of misdirection, but the execution of this theme is farfetched and unimpressive. Most of the issues with this film come from the script. The story lends itself to a PG-13 rating but they tried to make it edgy with excessive f-words, Berry deciding that she wanted to use this role to feel comfortable being topless onscreen (and it awkwardly doesn’t fit into the story at all), and throwing in other unnecessary moments just to make sure that it felt like a “real” R-rated movie. Don Cheadle and Hugh Jackman are always entertaining and this is one of Travolta’s best performances in years, but giving great actors a smutty script will only result in a smutty movie. “Swordfish” is an interesting throwback to the dawn of the internet age and an idealized view of computers, but as far as heist films are concerned, you can do better than this.
[Pictured: With this cast, "Swordfish" should have been amazing]