Swordfish (film)

Swordfish (film)

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Dominic Sena
Produced by Joel Silver
Jonathan D. Krane
Written by Skip Woods
Starring Hugh Jackman
John Travolta
Halle Berry
Don Cheadle
Vinnie Jones
Music by Christopher Young
Paul Oakenfold
Cinematography Paul Cameron
Editing by Stephen E. Rivkin
Studio Village Roadshow Pictures
Silver Pictures
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release date(s) June 8, 2001 (2001-06-08)
Running time 99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $102,000,000[1]
Box office $147,080,413

Swordfish is a 2001 crime-thriller film, directed by Dominic Sena and starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle and Vinnie Jones. The film is an action thriller that was also notable for Halle Berry's first topless scene.[2] The film centers around Stanley Jobson, a ex-con computer hacker who is targeted for recruitment into a bank robbery conspiracy because of his formidable hacking skills.

In the United States, the film has received a MPAA rating of R for violence, language, and some sexuality/nudity.



The film begins in a restaurant in Los Angeles where a man (John Travolta) speaks into a camera before walking off, with numerous SWAT officers pointing guns at him and a nervous, disheveled man (Hugh Jackman) following him out to reveal a much larger situation. They walk to a nearby building with armed gunmen and hostages strapped with bombs and ball-bearings. One of the gunmen is killed by a sniper; when the hostage is forcibly taken away, the explosives detonate via a proximity trigger, killing her and others. The film then flashes back four days.

Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) is a hacker who infected the FBI's Carnivore program with a potent computer virus, delaying its deployment by several years. For this, he was arrested by Agent Roberts (Don Cheadle), convicted of computer crimes and spent two years in Leavenworth. A condition of his parole is that he is forbidden from touching, much less using, a computer. His ex-wife, Melissa (Drea de Matteo), has sole custody over their daughter Holly and a restraining order against Stanley from seeing Holly.

While Stanley is at home (a trailer in rural Texas) practicing his golf swing, Ginger Knowles (Halle Berry) shows up to solicit his hacking skills for her boss Gabriel Shear (John Travolta). Stanley is apparently recruited at the last minute as a replacement for Gabriel's first choice, Axl Torvalds (Rudolf Martin), a Finnish hacker of exceptional talent who was arrested by authorities at the airport. Torvalds is later assassinated by Gabriel's men before he can divulge anything about his assignment and who hired him to Agent Roberts. For an initial $100,000, Stanley agrees to meet with Gabriel. He and Ginger fly to Los Angeles and meet Gabriel in a night club. Gabriel pressures Stanley right then and there to hack a government system in 60 seconds while simultaneously being held at gunpoint by Gabriel's bodyguard and right hand man, Marco (Vinnie Jones) and receiving fellatio from a young woman (Laura Lane). Although it was just a test (the gun was not loaded) Stanley succeeded in hacking the system, a feat that Gabriel had not anticipated.

At Gabriel's house he offers Stanley $10 million to write a worm that steals money from a secret government slush fund to the order of $9.5 billion. Gabriel reveals to Stanley that he works for an organization called the Black Cell that was started by J. Edgar Hoover in the 1950s, which is responsible for retaliatory attacks against terrorists who have attacked Americans. It is currently headed by Senator Reisman (Sam Shepard), who discovers that the FBI has caught onto Gabriel and attempts to pull the plug. After Gabriel refuses to terminate his plans, Reisman attempts to have Gabriel killed, which fails. Gabriel tracks the Senator down while he is fly fishing in Bend, Oregon and kills him.

Gabriel proceeds with his plan and raids the local branch of the WORLDBANC. He takes hostages, puts explosives on them and deploys Stanley's worm. After stealing the $9.5 billion he boards the hostages and his crew on a bus out of the bank. Gabriel demands a plane at the local airport (a hostage negotiation cliché) but it was a diversion. An S-64 Aircrane swoops down, lifts the bus and releases it on the rooftop of a skyscraper. From the rooftop, Gabriel seemingly departs with his team in a helicopter, which Stanley shoots down with a rocket-propelled grenade. At the morgue, Stanley and Agent Roberts learn that the body recovered from the helicopter is that of a former Mossad agent named Gabriel Shear, revealing that the "true" Gabriel Shear is still alive.

The end of the film shows Ginger and Gabriel in Monte Carlo transferring the $9.5 billion into other accounts. The final scene shows a yacht being destroyed while Ginger and Gabriel look on in a smaller boat while a news anchor voice narrates that a suspected terrorist died on that yacht, the third such successful counter-terrorism operation in as many weeks.

Alternate endings

The DVD version contains an alternate ending wherein Ginger is told in the bank that the account is already empty, alluding to the possibility that Stanley has played one final trick on them and taken the money himself. In a companion scene to the alternate ending, Stanley is shown on a trip with his daughter in a brand new RV. While eating at a diner, Stanley is shown transferring many billion dollars to various charities before continuing his trip.



This film received a great deal of press initially because it featured Halle Berry's first topless scene. She was paid an extra $500,000 on top of her $2 million fee to appear topless in this film. Critics said the scene looked forced, thrown into the film just to garner press, but Berry said she did the topless scene knowing it was gratuitous, just to overcome the fear of appearing nude onscreen.[2]

Only a quarter of the Rotten Tomatoes critics gave the film a positive review, maintaining it with a 26% rating; the website's "Cream of the Crop" reviewers were even less positive.[3] In a review for The New York Times, Stephen Holden wrote:[4]

With its blasé blend of bogus international intrigue and action-for-action's-sake, Swordfish suggests a James Bond movie stripped of humor. True, there are a few moments of wit, like the opening sequence. But the dominant tone masquerading as humor is a snide, rancid nihilism devoid of laughs, unless wholesale destruction and gloating stupidity are what tickle your funny bone.

According to Box Office Mojo, the film grossed over $147 million in worldwide box office receipts on a production budget of $102 million.[1] John Travolta's performance in the film earned him a Razzie Award nomination for Worst Actor (also for Domestic Disturbance).


The soundtrack for Swordfish was produced by Paul Oakenfold, under Village Roadshow and Warner Bros. and distributed through London Sire Records, Inc. It contains 15 tracks.

The film's orchestral score was written by Christopher Young with several electronic additions by Paul Oakenfold. Fragments from the score were added to the official soundtrack, but were remixed by Oakenfold. A more complete release was issued as an award promo, which is known for its rarity.[5]

See also

  • Swordfish (password) – Origin of the film's title
  • Linus Torvalds – The name of the 'hacker/cracker', Axl Torvalds, is an homage to the author of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds.
  • Bill Joy – The name of the Assistant Director, Bill Joy, appears to be an homage to the American computer scientist and Sun Microsystems co-founder, Bill Joy.


External links

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