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Swordfish (2001)

A covert counter-terrorist unit called Black Cell led by Gabriel Shear wants the money to help finance their war against international terrorism, but it's all locked away. Gabriel brings in convicted hacker Stanley Jobson to help him.



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5 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
A.D. Joy
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SWAT Leader


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 <blackjac_1998@yahoo.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Log on. Hack in. Go anywhere. Steal everything. See more »


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


$102,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$18,145,632 (USA) (10 June 2001)


$69,772,969 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


This is the second film in which John Travolta makes a reference to Dog Day Afternoon (1975). In the opening scene, he discusses the film in great detail, and in Saturday Night Fever (1977), he impersonates Al Pacino's "Attica!" chant from the film. See more »


The headrest in Stanley's car changes position when he drops his daughter off. 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 last credit reads "Final Password: Vernam", which is part of the website game. (See Trivia). A Vernam cypher is a method of encrypting a message. See more »


Referenced in Speed: Elevated Voltage (2018) See more »


High Voltage
Written by Frank Popp
Performed by The Frank Popp Ensemble
Courtesy of Unique Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Top-Notch Trash
19 January 2003 | by (between New York and LA) – See all my reviews

Final Score:

8.3 (out of 10)

I just love movies like "Swordfish". Like clockwork they bring egghead, elitist critics out of the woodwork and send them into tizzies about logic, acting and depth as it they expected something Shakespearian out of a Joel Silver action movie about computer hacking and terrorism. It's one of those movies that sends critics on tirades about "the state of movies today" as if every movie released now is mindless, ultra-violent trash and every movie made in the past was modest and sensible art. In actuality, the reason I like "Swordfish" so much is because it is so rare. At the time of it's release the reverse is actually true- MOST action movies nowadays homogenize themselves into a commercially friendly PG-13. Movies like "XXX", "The Fast and the Furious", "Armageddon" and Sena's own "Gone and Sixty Seconds" would have been much more interesting had they been sectioned off as adults only flicks and allowed to do what they want instead of sticking a bunch of sex and violence under the radar of a teenagers PG-13 movie. However, Swordfish is none of these things. It is visceral entertainment- nothing more. It is more of a throwback to sensational, hyper-violent action movies of the 60s and 70s. It doesn't want to hear your story. It is not in competition with any Oscar contenders, it is mindless, intentionally ridiculous, sensational and proud of it. It is a top-notch guilty pleasure. Take it for what it is, not what you want it to be. If you took this movie seriously the joke is on you.

The opening scene features a well written monologue by John Travolta complaining about the lack of "realism" in today's movies. From that moment on "Swordfish" goes on to be one of the most convoluted and absurd things I've seen in a long time. It seems to be having a lot of fun throwing one extreme and nonsensical idea after another at the audience- as a result the fun is infectious. Much of the fun of this movie is laughing along with it as to how silly it is. It hits all the points crucial to making a great guilty pleasure. There are plenty of explosions (the slow motion opening is an eye-popper), bloody shootouts, sex and nudity without any false dramatic pretense. Skip Woods dialogue is served best when pointing out the films absurdities ("I just watched that madman murder 8 men in the street"). The visuals are stunning. The cinematography is glossy and the whole film is washed out in this retro yellow palette. Paul Oakenfield's music (featuring "Lapdance" and the end credit "Get out of My Life Now") and the rest of the soundtrack ("50,000 Watts of F---ing") is absolutely perfect. The pace is slick and quick and the story cycles around in a nifty non-linear format. Obviously, the acting is nothing that was Oscar snubbed, but everybody is on the same page with the director's vision. Travolta hams it up fantastically (rescuing himself form recent bombs) and Hugh Jackman (who finds himself running around in a suit and tie with a rocket launcher before it's all over) is a likeable reluctant hero.

I rented it expecting trash and got exactly what I expected. But it is superior to a lot of other guilty pleasures because it does have an imagination. Yes, in all the madness and mayhem there is some gruesome creativity at work. Obviously not for all tastes, if you want a truly "good" movie you can intellectually discuss with your friends go search in the Independent Films section- there are plenty of great one's out there. But every once in a while I get in the mood for a pure fun movie to contrast those and "Swordfish" fits the bill gloriously. Personally I'll take "dumb" over "boring" any day.

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