6.5/10
174,774
557 user 164 critic

Swordfish (2001)

Trailer
0:32 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Dominic Sena

Writer:

Skip Woods
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Popularity
2,405 ( 457)
5 wins & 10 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Travolta ... Gabriel
Hugh Jackman ... Stanley
Halle Berry ... Ginger
Don Cheadle ... Roberts
Sam Shepard ... Senator Reisman
Vinnie Jones ... Marco
Drea de Matteo ... Melissa
Rudolf Martin ... Axl Torvalds
Zach Grenier ... A.D. Joy
Camryn Grimes ... Holly
Angelo Pagán ... Torres
Chic Daniel ... SWAT Leader
Kirk B.R. Woller ... Lawyer
Carmen Argenziano ... Agent
Tim DeKay ... Agent
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Password Accepted See more »

Genres:

Action | Crime | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

John Cusack and Val Kilmer were considered for the part of Stanley. Ultimately, Dominic Sena opted for Hugh Jackman, because he didn't bring too much baggage from other films with him. See more »

Goofs

The $400 million in DEA money is said to have grown, "with interest", to $9.5 billion in 15 years. That would represent a compound interest rate of over 21% per year, which is unrealistic. At 12%, the money would have grown to a little less than $2.4 billion. At a more realistic 6%, it would be about $981 million, or a little over one-tenth of the value claimed in the movie. See more »

Quotes

[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 ...
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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 »

Alternate Versions

Alternate television takes were shot for the scene with Ginger at the pool (she wears a bikini) and where Stanley hacks into the main frame of the Departement of Defense (Helga is not there). See more »


Soundtracks

Dark Machine
Written by Paul Oakenfold and Andy Gray
Performed by Paul Oakenfold and Christopher Young
Courtesy of London-Sire Records
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User Reviews

 
Like a good old-fashioned action movie, but with a good plot.
9 June 2001 | by jwillis81See 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.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

8 June 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Swordfish_ See more »

Filming Locations:

Santa Clarita, California, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$102,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$18,145,632, 10 June 2001

Gross USA:

$69,772,969

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$147,080,413
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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