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Swordfish (2001)



Average Rating: 4.3/10
Reviews Counted: 136
Fresh: 35 | Rotten: 101

Swordfish is big on explosions, but critics dislike how it skimps on plot and logic. Also, the sight of a person typing at a computer just isn't that interesting.


Average Rating: 3.6/10
Critic Reviews: 35
Fresh: 7 | Rotten: 28

Swordfish is big on explosions, but critics dislike how it skimps on plot and logic. Also, the sight of a person typing at a computer just isn't that interesting.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.1/5
User Ratings: 243,705

My Rating

Movie Info

Director Dominic Sena follows up his stylish action film Gone in 60 Seconds (2000) with this high-tech thriller. John Travolta stars as Gabriel Shear, a charismatic spy who plots to steal a multi-billion-dollar fortune in illegal government funds. In order to make his scheme work, however, Gabriel needs some help from a computer hacker, which is where Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) comes in. Stanley has been paroled from prison after serving a lengthy sentence for penetrating the FBI's


Drama, Action & Adventure, Mystery & Suspense

Skip Woods

Oct 30, 2001


Warner Bros. Pictures - Official Site External Icon

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All Critics (152) | Top Critics (39) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (101) | DVD (33)

Another in a long line of middling movies for Travolta.

January 22, 2002 Full Review Source: New York Magazine/Vulture
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The story ... is just what fills in the gaps between slow-motion fireballs, Matrix-style frozen mayhem, and Halle Berry's notoriously undraped breasts.

June 12, 2001 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The sleazy script by Skip Woods ... slimes the actors.

June 12, 2001
Rolling Stone
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An action opera designed to elicit Beavis and Butt-head-level appreciation.

June 8, 2001 Full Review Source: Washington Post | Comment (1)
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Nobody really cares about the plot, least of all the filmmakers.

June 8, 2001 Full Review Source: Washington Post
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Cool explosions are the best thing here.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

Good pacing and intriguing characters drive the overflowing testosterone blitz to an above average level of fun.

July 21, 2009 Full Review Source:

A techno thriller that suffers from narrative shortcomings but is elevated by the star power of John Travolta and Halle Berry and particularly Aussie actor Hugh Jackman who's bound to become a Hollywood star.

December 1, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Comment (1)

Strap yourself in for the ride and enjoy.

August 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

It calls itself a 'thriller,' apparently because it is loaded with pointless machinations that pile up into a tortured wreck of narrative desperation.

February 7, 2003 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Some explosions, a lot of techno, two X-Men, and a Sweat-hog.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

Jaded, cynical, dumb and degenerate.

November 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Daily Mail [UK]
Daily Mail [UK]

...plays out like Jerry Bruckheimer's table scraps-- going through the motions in a clueless fog of market-research statistics and demographic pandering.

July 24, 2002
Philadelphia Weekly

Trite and overdone and undercooked and thrown together and ridiculous and wasteful.

July 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

[An] incredibly convoluted and ponderous techno-thriller that does little but showcase fast fading star John Travolta at his most staggeringly ineffectual.

February 21, 2002 Full Review Source: Matinee Magazine
Matinee Magazine

...little more than an excuse to insert as much violence, profanity, and sex as possible into a postmodern exercise in futility.

October 31, 2001
Movie Metropolis

It's easy to dislike what Swordfish is selling... but it makes a compelling pitch.

October 24, 2001 Full Review Source: Flipside Movie Emporium
Flipside Movie Emporium

Boasts one of the most impressive scenes of utter destruction in cinematic history to date.

September 30, 2001 Full Review Source: Radio Free Entertainment
Radio Free Entertainment

Techno tosh, but fitfully great fun all the same.

July 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

[reseña en castellano]

July 24, 2001

Begins as an involving heist/hacker thriller and ends as a muddled, incoherent mess.

July 17, 2001 Full Review Source: Film Blather
Film Blather

A pesar de algunas cosas notorias en su aspecto visual, no deja de ser una más del género

July 16, 2001 Full Review Source: Moviola

Simply too inane to be anything more than a formulaic Hollywood blockbuster.

July 16, 2001 Full Review Source:

While embracing and celebrating its lowest-common- denominator aspirations make the film refreshingly unpretentious and modestly diverting, it doesn't make it a good one.

July 6, 2001 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Swordfish

Possibly the stupidest movie title ever? we do find out why during the film but still. Possibly the stupidest look for Travolta? the most camp hairdo? gotta be contenders huh.

This film is basically about hacking computers, stealing lots of money and transferring it here there and everywhere in a flurry of slick sexy sequences. That's pretty much it, Travolta's character tells us its all in the name of national security and for US protection against terrorism, which it does seem to be. So this begs the question why is Travolta and his goons made out to be bad guys when they're working for the US government and hitting back at dangerous terrorists?. The FBI finds out about the operation, OK its a dodgy op but what's wrong with it?.

Apart from being very much like an ensemble 'Bond' flick the film actually offers a few interesting insights. Halle Berry's first topless scene is the big one (no pun intended), doesn't really add anything to the film and feels pointless but its there. This was only Vinnie Jones second major Hollywood film and again he has very little to say, still weird to see him in a Hollywood film at the time though. Only Jackman's second Hollywood action film also, after 'X-Men'. This was one of the earlier films for Cheadle which started to push him further into bigger action films. Likewise this was a film within a string of action films for Travolta that all kicked off after success with a certain Tarantino film.

A bland film really with little to show, the action is impressive but doesn't feel required. It also seems way way over the top just for the sake of it. The plot doesn't really make much sense, its simple yet made out to be grand and complex with lots of tech talk and government plots. Thing is you can see right through it, its just an action film with too many big stars that are knee deep in makeup. An odd collection of stars too, none of them really gel together.

I really got the impression that certain scenes and stunts are in there just to keep you the audience interested, as none of it serves the plot. At the start where Travolta's character is doing his own little 'Tarantino-esq' bit of dialog, Berry topless as said before, Jackman's character getting a blow job whilst trying to crack a code, sexy ladies asses on display, a car chase where Travolta uses an M60 machine gun (I think) etc...The story could be told without all that.

Its like a compilation of sexy smooth cool sequences which is assumed people will like. The actual plot and character development seems to have been added afterwards as an afterthought.

The finale typifies how the director tries to make this out to be a clever film. Travolta's character seemingly escapes in a chopper but gets blown to kingdom come by a rocket launcher. We then discover that a body double was in the chopper and 'Gabriel' tricked everyone. But how did 'Gabriel' know his chopper would get shot down? what if Jackman's character didn't use the rocket launcher? he didn't have to, he may not even of thought of it seeing as the weapon was back on the bus.

That was the clever twist the film had been building up to! that and another which wasn't exactly groundbreaking. So really the bad guys entire dastardly plan seemed to hinge on whether or not the good guy would use a particular weapon at a particular time, that's some good crystal ball skills right there.
April 10, 2013

Super Reviewer


Like most star studded Hollywood movies that try to do something original or quirky, Swordfish fails to cover new ground and subsequently dissapoints even as a generic yet somewhat promising blockbuster. The fundamental flaw with the script is in how it attempts to outsmart it's own premise. I'm sorry, but you cannot allow a person typing away at a computer to take up an entire scene with no clear form of suspense. At least "The Pelican Brief" kept you tense while nothing was happening. But watching Swordfish is like waiting for a video game to download, you wan't it to get the dull and dismal plot points over with so you can get to the explosions and gunfights. That is after all what this movie was made for right? Well, apparently not. The performances and the action choreography is essentially the only saving grace of the film. In the classic neo noir pulp style, there's a scene where Halle Berry (Catwoman in the 2004 flop) is required to expose her breasts in a seductive fashion, but to no effect whatsoever other than a quick chuckle, the fact I found it funny and not unsettling proves how it's merely an expression of style without the sexiness. Writer Skip Woods went on to pen X Men Origins: Wolverine, so it's no surprise the lines are as rusty as they could possibly come. In fact, one of the most interesting moments of the film is the gripping opening, where John Travolta begins to explain the lack of originality in Modern Hollywood action movies. He references the genius of Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon" and how beautifully directed, well lit and well written it was and stresses that it wasn't the same old fare that could have had an unbearable lack of "creativity", but didn't. In the first 5 minutes I figured this would be a satire on the cliched Hollywood movie, it certainly looked like it. But within seconds it just staggered completely downhill. The irony of this is that Swordfish is a messy, self indulgent, dull, uninteresting, anticlimactic thriller that goes for edgy and revolutionary but comes across as boringly generic and unbearably camp.
February 18, 2013
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

This may look like a shallow, Tony-Scott-esque actioner to the superficial viewer, but I found there was a lot more to it. First of all, the opening sequence in which Travolta lectures about the film industry and its unrealistic yearning for happy endings. The film often plays with the expectations of viewers, offering quite a few twists, (partially) refusing the expected solution to the story. You have to admire that in a blockbuster. After the initial big bang there is not much action in the first half, but things are enthralling anyway and get pretty fast and spectacular towards the showdown. The dialogs do not quite hold the level of the smart script, sometimes fishing from the bowl of stereotypes. The result is still a highly entertaining film that
August 15, 2011

Super Reviewer

A computer hacker gets asked to do a really big job ... by the Mission: Impossible team. For those who don't remember, Mission: Impossible was a 60's television show wherein America's best and brightest spies would hoodwink some power-mad Third World despot with high tech savvy and smooze ala James Bond. Jackson is our tour guide/hacker into this world, Travolta the guy calling the shots, and Berry is the delectable bit o'bait. A spectacular ending and a beginning stolen from Dog Day Afternoon rounds out this stop-thinking-it's-only-a-movie thrill ride.
June 15, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Gabriel Shear: Do you know what the problem with Hollywood is? They make shit.
    – Submitted by William C (2 years ago)
    1. Gabriel Shear: Thousands die every day for no reason at all, wheres' your bleeding heart for them? You give your twenty dollars to greenpeace every year thinking you're changing the world?
    – Submitted by Abhilash A (2 years ago)
    1. Gabriel Shear: Life is stranger than fiction sometimes.
    – Submitted by topher h (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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