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Swordfish (2001)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Thriller  |  8 June 2001 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 148,803 users   Metascore: 32/100
Reviews: 533 user | 164 critic | 33 from

A secretive renegade counter-terrorist co-opts the world's greatest hacker (who is trying to stay clean) to steal billions in US Government dirty money.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Torres (as Angelo Pagán)


When the DEA shut down its dummy corporation operation codenamed SWORDFISH in 1986, they had generated $400 million which they let sit around; fifteen years of compound interest has swelled it to $9.5 billion. A covert counter-terrorist unit called Black Cell, headed by the duplicitious and suave Gabriel Shear, wants the money to help finance their raise-the-stakes vengeance war against international terrorism, but it's all locked away behind super-encryption. He brings in convicted hacker Stanley Jobson, who only wants to see his daughter Holly again but can't afford the legal fees, to slice into the government mainframes and get the money. Written by Jeff Cross <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violence, language and some sexuality/nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

8 June 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Swordfish_  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$80,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$18,145,632 (USA) (8 June 2001)


$30,393,888 (Europe) (16 November 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This is the second film in which John Travolta makes a reference to the film "Dog Day Afternoon." In the opening scene, he discusses the film in great detail. And in "Saturday Night Fever," he impersonates Al Pacino's "Attica!" chant from the film. Coincidentally, Swordfish was released in 2001 and in Saturday Night Fever, "2001" is also the name of the disco where he dances. See more »


When Stanley enters decryption code on the screen we see about 10 lines of code on the first shot. When the camera returns a couple of seconds later, the same 10 lines are being reproduced. See more »


[first lines]
Gabriel: 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". No, I'm talking about the lack of realism. Realism; not a pervasive element in today's modern American cinematic ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening studio logos for Warner Bros and Village Roadshow Productions flicker as if they were on a problematic computer screen. Other than those logos and the movie's title, there are no opening credits. See more »


References The Godfather (1972) See more »


Stanley's Theme
Written by Paul Oakenfold and Andy Gray
Performed by Paul Oakenfold
Courtesy of London-Sire Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Like a good old-fashioned action movie, but with a good plot.
9 June 2001 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

Swordfish was one of my anxiously awaited summer flicks. And after seeing it a couple hours ago, I am not at all disappointed. It's been awhile since I've seen a truly enjoyable, mature action movie. With the slew of PG-13 action movies of recent years, it's refreshing to see one that at least acknowledges that many intense situations do involve language, sex, and mixed character reactions - it wasn't just another black and white, good and bad movie where the good guy does only good things and the bad guy has only evil intentions. The good guy (Jackman) didn't always do the right thing, and the bad guy (Travolta) could hardly be accused of sinister motives.

The film starts off with a bang ... literally. A big-time action sequence to get out attention, then a flashback to show how the climax of the film came to pass. The out-of-order editing was actually effective and interesting, rather than seeming like yet another failed attempt to mimic Pulp Fiction and those other movies that brought attention to the idea of showing a film out of chronological order.

Jackman was great as computer hacker Stanley Jobson, devoted father who just happened to get brought down for computer-related felonies after hacking into and making public an FBI e-mail surveillance operation. Forbidden to even touch a computer for the rest of his days, he is lured back into the life by Travolta, who offers him $100,000 just to meet him (and take an interesting version of an initiation). Jackman is quickly becoming Hollywood A-list material, and with his performance in Swordfish, it's easy to see why. He can keep up with the smooth-talking, fast-moving Travolta as well as show enough emotion to make him seem like a real person and not just a run-of-the-mill action hero.

The plot of the film is fantastic. It's not just a typical heist film, or action plot where the hero has to save the hostages, blowing the hell out of the bad guys in the process. The plot is complex, interwoven, and has a point. The plot was crucial to keeping interest during the slow parts of the film. Starting out with an action sequence carries the danger of losing audience interest if not followed up by more and more action. Thankfully, the plot manages to retain interest during those points in the film where things aren't exploding and buses aren't flying through metropolitan airspace, suspended from a heavy loading chopper.

The best part about this film was the interractions between the characters. Stanley is a smart guy, and Gabriel's smarter. Just when Stanley (and the audience) thinks they have Gabriel in a tight spot, he'll surprise everyone with some improvised ingenuity. There are so many films in the action genre that result to dumbing down the smart villains, just so the hero of the story will look good when he comes up with a relatively weak solution to the complex plot. The villains often slip up or make some kind of fatal faux pas in judgment that allows the hero to triumph. There's none of that here. The hero and villain are both smart, and both stay that way until the very end.

This is a great summer movie. See it. See it twice or three times, even. If you're looking for high art or something that really speaks to you and changes the way you see the world, don't see it. But if you want to see a movie for the sake of entertainment and having a good time, Swordfish is the movie to go to. If Swordfish is any indication of the rest of this summer's big action blockbusters, we're certainly in good shape this year.

43 of 58 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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