Advertisement

Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Swordfish

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Profanity:Very strong language
Nudity/Sex:Nudity, explicit sexual references and situations
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking and smoking, character abuses pills
Violence/Scariness:Extreme and prolonged violence
Diversity Issues:Strong black and female characters but bimbo characters, too
Movie Release Date:2001
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Profanity: Very strong language
Nudity/Sex: Nudity, explicit sexual references and situations
Alcohol/Drugs: Drinking and smoking, character abuses pills
Violence/Scariness: Extreme and prolonged violence
Diversity Issues: Strong black and female characters but bimbo characters, too
Movie Release Date: 2001

If attitude and very cool explosions were enough to make a movie worthwhile, then this one would win an Oscar. But movies generally require something along the lines of characters and plot, and there this movie lets us down.

John Travolta plays a mysterious bad guy named Gabriel Shear who will do anything to get what he wants. In this case, he wants the greatest hacker in the world, Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman), to help him steal a lot of money from a bank. We first see Gabriel talking about what’s wrong with Hollywood movies and describing his objections to “Dog Day Afternoon” (coincidentally the same movie Travolta quoted in “Saturday Night Fever”). It becomes apparent that this is not just some random conversation over drinks. We are in the middle of a very ugly hostage situation, far more menacing than the one in “Dog Day Afternoon.” He doesn’t just have the hostages strapped up in explosives. He has them strapped up in explosives and ball bearings, so that when one person explodes we will get to see the rain of spheres operating like a mini-minefield.

Then a flashback: Ginger (Halle Berry) finds Stanley working as a maintenance man at an oil rig, under probation that will send him to jail immediately if he touches a computer keyboard. She tells Stanley that her employer will pay $100,000 just to meet him, and Stanley, who wants to regain custody of his plucky daughter from his druggie porn star wife, accepts. They meet in the kind of nightclub/house of decadence that Hollywood types think that non-Hollywood types will think is cool. Gabriel gives Stanley a rather unusual test — 60 seconds to break into a Defense Department computer system while a gun is at his head and a woman is otherwise distracting him under the desk.

Many explosions and shoot-outs and car chases (plus a look at Halle Berry topless) later, we are back at the hostage scene, and ready for some very predictable twists and turns and a bus hanging from a helicopter before the unsurprising ending.

The dialogue is supposed to be hip and sardonic, but it is just third-rate Tarantino. When the Berry character says that her name is Ginger, the best they can do is have Stanley make a “Gilligan’s Island” joke. Generally speaking, when the characters in a movie laugh at a joke, the audience does not. The movie tries for a vibe that is cool, amoral, and ambiguous, but what it gets is a vibe that is manipulative and insincere. Really — they could not figure out a way to make us care about Stanley without making his daughter have a stepfather who makes porn movies and a mother who is too drugged out to pick her up from school on time? They throw in a little Jeremy Bentham-esque dialogue about the greatest good for the greatest number, but are we really supposed to be glad that national security is being carried out by a rogue cop who thinks he is above the rules? It’s like giving the codes to the atom bomb to Leona Helmsley.

Jackman and Berry do their best with criminally underwritten parts, but Travolta never makes us believe that his character has two dimensions, much less three. All that’s left are the explosions and chases which are well handled, but we care so little about the outcome that they barely matter.

Parents should know that this is a true R movie with very strong language, nudity, sexual references and situations (including using a woman like property and ordering her to service Stanley sexually in front of other people), and a lot of violence. Many people are killed and there is an extended close-up of a grisly corpse.

Families who see this movie should talk about the Bentham-esque conundrum posed by Gabriel. If you could wipe out cancer by killing one child, would you do it? Should Stanley have violated his parole and broken the law in order to get his daughter back? How is what he did when Ginger was being threatened make him different from Gabriel?

Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Face-Off” with Travolta and Nicolas Cage and “X-Men” with Jackman and Berry.

Previous Posts

Ebertfest #3 -- The "Ida" Panel
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk2--Y8hfqQ[/youtube] Thanks to Matt Zoller Seitz, Sheila O'Malley, and Todd Rendleman for our superb discussion about this year's Oscar winner for best foreign language movie, "Ida." ...

posted 8:59:24am Apr. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Movies vs. Science -- The Worst Science Mistakes on Film
The Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum used to have a great little video with a claymation Albert Einstein shaking his head over the many mistakes in sci-fi movies. "They're breaking my rule!" he exclaimed. As the animated genius went on to ...

posted 8:00:59am Apr. 19, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Ant-Man
Okay, I admit I was skeptical. I was thinking along the lines of Teeny Little Super Guy from Sesame Street. But I love Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, and Corey Stoll and this trailer has me sold. [iframe width="560" height="315" ...

posted 3:25:31pm Apr. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Movie Scenes in Grocery Stores -- Featuring Macaulay Culkin, Michael Keaton, Natalie Portman, Steve Martin, Ryan Gosling, and More
Check out Slate's compilation of movie scenes set in grocery stores.  It has a lot of my favorites, but leaves out this classic with Henry Fonda and Lucille Ball, from the fact-based "Yours, Mine, and ...

posted 8:00:01am Apr. 18, 2015 | read full post »

Ebertfest 2015, Part 2
It was a great honor to be included on today's panel of movie critics, along with superstars Godfrey Cheshire, Scott Foundas, Matt Zoller Seitz, Rebecca Theodore Vachon, Richard Roeper, Susan Wloszczyna, Michael Phillips, Brian Tallarico, and ...

posted 8:36:52pm Apr. 17, 2015 | read full post »

Advertisement


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.