You've seen the trailer: hacker Stanley (X-Men's Hugh Jackman) must access a top-security computer in 60 seconds—considerably less time than it takes the average mortal to open an E-mail inbox. What the trailer doesn't show is the gun to his head, the frantic keyboard shots, or the sexy blonde performing oral sex on poor overworked Stanley. These trailer omissions tell a lot about this techno-thriller. Swordfish is concerned with capital-a Action! rather than any storyline allegedly causing it. Thus something as visually uninteresting as hacking gets blown up into an R-rated extravaganza with ludicrous sex and forcefully implanted violence.
But let's talk about the acting. John Travolta begins the film on a promising note, delivering a Tarantino-style movie critique as an ultraviolent heist rages on. Then he devolves into that horrible smirk, the one that ran rampant throughout Battlefield: Earth and reminds us why he disappeared from Hollywood for so many years. Halle Berry acts as the trim assistant to Travolta's puffy evil genius. She's distant, far colder than her Storm character from X-Men, possibly due to lingering resentment over her nude scene. Jackman, as the wholesome hacker who just wants to get his daughter back, has a few decent moments, but then the explosions come crashing in. Guaranteed to shorten your attention span.