“Swordfish” is a great film – no, I don’t mean that the way you’re thinking. Rather I mean that its a perfect example of the way action movies are at present – slick, fast and all style but totally empty, lacking in suspense and overall disappointing.
Gone are the classic days of “Die Hard” – a time when Arnold Schwarzenegger films like “Predator” and T2 were a must see. Some say they may have had cliched dialogue and not so great acting, but at least they had interesting setups and fitted the action to the plot. Filmmakers understood the concept of suspense and the need to have quiet periods of character development to not only move the plot along but also build up anticipation for the flashy stunts and exciting action.
Then music video directors started becoming filmmakers and good scripts and solid conventions of movie making relied now on super fast editing, flashy production values and reliance on FX more than stunts. Films looked a little more stylish but lost a lot of substance as a result – they went from a genre of exciting classics to films which were entertaining but unsatisfying & mediocre overall, with only one or two films like “The Matrix” & “Face/Off” (which combined this modern visual style with good old fashioned filmmaking plot/character techniques) managing to satisfy.
“Swordfish” is a great example of this new mediocre type of filmmaking – its a movie with some spectacular action and great use of camera tricks and editing, but that’s about it. It dazzles you with moments of spectacle, nudity (gratuitous flashes of Berry’s quite perky tits and Jackman’s huge cock barely restrained in a skimpy towel) and some occasionally clever dialogue but all the bluster and screeching can’t hide the fact it actually doesn’t consist of much.
Its like the way some people think that buying the right clothes, car, etc. suddenly makes one cool when in fact its self confidence and respect that are what really make someone interesting & ‘cool’. Performance wise none of the stars come off great except for maybe Berry – Jackman and Travolta seem average whilst Cheadle and Jones are big disappointments.
The script may sound clever at times but the dialogue also gets cheesy, the story very cobbled together and the character development pretty much non existent. Don’t get me wrong, on a technical level this is actually better constructed than “The Mummy Returns” and “Tomb Raider”, though ‘Raider’ at least had a bit more imagination to it despite worse dialogue.
Still, “Swordfish” has its unique moments with blow jobs whilst computer working, the opening explosion shot, and the sky bus chase. Other elements such as the cliff tumbledown seem both ridiculous and unneeded (what the hell was the point of that?). To use an apt metaphor – the likes of the aforementioned “Die Hard” and “Predator” are films I’ve had long and very fruitful relationships with that are rewarding to this day. “Swordfish” is a one night stand that was fun at the time but now that its over I want to try and forget it. It’ll satisfy for two hours but isn’t a film you’ll have in your collection or rush out to see again.