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From the opening line, you can tell that this is going to be a fun movie. From the trailers, you can tell that this is going to be an action packed movie.

It is both.

Swordfish starts off with a funny, cleverly-written monologue by Gabriel Shear (John Travolta), in the middle of a hostage negotiation that goes horribly wrong. It's at this time that some of the movie's best effects are displayed, and it's also the time that you realize you're in for a hell of a ride.

It then cuts to four days earlier. Stanley (Hugh Jackman) is hitting some golf balls when he's approached by Ginger (Halle Berry), who has a proposition for him. He will be paid a hundred grand just to meet her boss. She then leads him to Gabriel, who tells him that he needs someone who can hack his way into a government bank account in sixty seconds. Interestingly enough, the world's best hackers can only do it in sixty minutes.

Stanley needs the money, and even though he can go to jail he goes along. Unfortunately for Stanley, he doesn't know what he's gotten himself into until it's too late.

From there, it turns into a full-fledged action flick. Not that there's anything wrong with that! It's smart, fun, funny, clever, well directed, well acted, and action packed.

What more can you ask for?

Jackman, who was amazing as Wolverine in X-Men, is just as good here, though he seems to talk through clenched teeth a little too often. Travolta looks like he had a lot of fun playing the bad guy (again), and Berry is good as the sexy Ginger. Don Cheadle is always good in his roles, and Vinnie Jones always plays the same role anyway...but plays it perfectly.

Swordfish is one of the most underrated films of the year. It was trashed by critics, probably because it made them think. It'll make you think too, as long as you can understand what's going on. It has some good social commentary about the government, and is definitely one of my favorites of the year.

It's probably the most fun 100 minutes you'll spend this year.

The DVD is top-notch. The 5.1 Dolby Digital comes in handy for a film like this. There are shoot-outs and explosions galore, and it feels like they're happening all around you. Sound is firm and crisp, and brings you right into the movie. The picture, presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, is crystal clear. Brights are bright and darks are dark. It's solid, and the quality maintains its consistency throughout. A very nice job.

As far as extras go, they sound more impressive than they actually are. First off is the HBO "First Look" documentary, which is fairly short and strictly promotional. It doesn't really tell you a lot about the making of the film. The other documentary is "The Effects in Focus," which is about eight minutes long and focuses on the bus sequence. It does have a few interesting things to say, but at only eight minutes, it can't really go into any real detail. It should have been a very interesting doc, but instead just seems to have been made in order to put another extra feature on the disc.

There is a feature-length audio commentary by director Dominic Sena, who has some interesting things to say. At the very least, he likes the film and enjoyed making it. Aside from the usuals (trailers, filmographies, etc.), there are two alternate endings not seen in theaters. Both are pretty bad, and were rightly not used. Of course, one of them is just basically a shorter version of the actual ending. Both can be viewed with or without commentary by Sena.

Overall, the audio and video quality of the disc are excellent. Unfortunately, the extras are pretty poor and should have been a lot better. Still, definitely a disc worth buying if you're a fan of the movie.

Swordfish, from Warner Home Entertainment
99 minutes, anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) 16X9 enhanced, 5.1 Dolby Digital
Starring John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle and Vinnie Jones
Written by Skip Woods
Produced by Joel Silver and Jonathan D. Krane
Directed by Dominic Sena.


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Updated May 13, 2006