Hacker attacks are certainly more fun in movies than in real life, as we can watch in this fast-paced 2001 cyber-thriller, Swordfish.
It all begins with a young programmer being arrested at the airport, then harshly interrogated by FBI agent Roberts. Just as he is about to confess, some hitmen kill him and then disappear into thin air.
Indeed the boy was supposed to carry out important and secret work for Gabriel Shear, another agent in charge of the Secret Service’s shadowy black operations.
Therefore, Gabriel has no choice but to find a replacement quickly, asking his partner Ginger Knowles to visit Stanley Jobson, a once famous but then fallen hacker.
Stanley is not eager to return to criminal life, but his financial situation is disastrous, and moreover, his alcoholic wife is about to get sole custody of his young daughter.
So when he realizes this job can earn him ten million dollars and solve all his problems in one fell swoop, he agrees to join Gabriel’s gang.
In front of him, he has a seemingly impossible challenge: writing a code to penetrate inside the safety system of an international bank, draining a series of accounts that officially do not exist.
Indeed, these accounts go back to the Cold War days, laundering the profits of some fake companies the CIA employed for clandestine operations.
During all that time and with the massive interests accumulating, there are now more than nine billion dollars in these accounts, which he must split into as many anonymous Swiss funds.
However, when he discovers Gabriel and his henchmen actually intend to assault the bank by force anyway, Stanley tries to back out, but sadly it is too late at that point.
Sexy Thriller Bytes
Sometimes I miss how it works the success and failure of a movie, especially something like Swordfish, which I thought was outstanding, but critics and audiences slaughtered enough to nominate it for the 2001 Razzie Awards.
From here on, the director has failed one movie after another, starting with the ridiculous remake of Gone in Sixty Seconds and other sleazy thrillers like Whiteout and Season of the Witch, so far the last productions he has brought to theaters.
It is a pity because, in this case, instead, he chooses the right pace for Skip Woods‘s solid screenplay, opening the story perfectly with a quote from Sidney Lumet‘s immortal Dog Day Afternoon.
In short, we have an intriguing story serving what seemed like an excellent cinematic technique, although I wonder how it plummeted so painfully in later movies.
The cyber thriller plot captivates from the start, combined with the exaggeratedly irresistible cool attitude shown by all the characters, no one excluded.
Moreover, underneath the mysterious mood, there is always a warm sensuality bursting out unexpectedly, as in the sexy and hilarious test Hugh Jackman undergoes by having to hack a computer while a delicious girl pleasures him with her mouth.
Rounding out this fabulous recipe, we also have famous deejay Paul Oakenfold, assisting in the music composition of the veteran Christopher Young, author, for example, of the soundtrack for the excellent Rapid Fire starring the late Brandon Lee.
A Chilling Ensemble of Cool Casting
Despite the criticism raining upon this movie, Swordfish gave its cast careers a welcome boost in 2001.
Although he may not have been quite believable as a programmer with that flawless body, Hugh Jackman convincingly stepped into the role of the ruined hacker Stanley Jobson.
It was a surprising confirmation for the actor, although he was certainly not unknown in those days, coming to the screens with the fierce Wolverine claws just the year before in Bryan Singer‘s first X-Men, still the best of the saga.
From the same movie came the stunning Halle Berry, trading the powerful Storm‘s costume for the brazen sexuality of the ambiguous Ginger Knowles.
A character who hides more than a few secrets behind her curves and golden skin, constantly oscillating between betrayal and total trust in John Travolta‘s figure.
The latter is simply unstoppable as the rebel agent Gabriel Shear, becoming, with dominance and class, the engine dragging the whole story and the other characters along.
It was a role that pleased all the great John’s fans, finally enjoying a full-blown spectacular performance after the immense disappointments of the lousy Battlefield Earth and The General’s Daughter.
Perhaps the only thing this story really lacks is an equally solid and convincing character on the side of the law, who fails to succeed with the honest FBI agent J.T. Roberts.
The fault is certainly not with the actor who plays him, the always excellent Don Cheadle, who is funny and menacing in just the right way; instead, with the character himself, who we understand from the get-go doesn’t stand a chance against the machiavellian John Travolta.
However, even this is not a big deal, as for once, we all root for the villain, hoping he achieves his spectacular heist.