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Swordfish (2001, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry)

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The world’s best hacker, Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman), spent two years in prison for breaking into an FBI programme that was going to search all of America’s e-mails. Now he lives in a trailer and is separated from his wife, who’s shacked up with a porn film-maker and has taken their daughter with her. Then Ginger (Halle Berry) pulls up in a flash sports car and offers him a deal. Her boss Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) needs his help to hack into a top-secret $9bn government slush fund and divert it to off-shore bank accounts where he will use it to fight terrorism with exteme prejudice, eventually snuffing out the threat to the world.

In return, Jobson will get more than enough money to get custody of his beloved daughter. Jobson agrees, but as the sting swings into operation, he begins to suspect that both Ginger and Shear are playing different games. As the film reaches its climax, not only is he at risk but so is his daughter. Meanwhile Agent Roberts (Don Cheadle) of the FBI is closing in on the gang while upright Senator James Reisman (Sam Shephard) seems a little too close to the action…

Sena’s film uses the same ploy as Shear’s plans to steal the fortune – misdirection, taking the audience one way so they assume a certain plot drive and then fooling them by changing the rules. But he keeps the whole thing plausible – who is Ginger working for and is Shear really after the money to fight terrorism or just for himself? The three main leads all play their roles to the hilt, with Travolta in particular oozing charm one moment and murderous malice the next. Add in a spectacular car chase and possibly the most original plan ever to escape a police pursuit, and this is a genuine edge-of-the-seat film that, while it was never going to trouble the Oscars, is a top thriller. And viewers can judge for themselves whether the reputed $500,000 – $1m (accounts vary) Ms Berry earned on top of her fee for two topless scenes is value for money.

production details
Australia – USA | 99 minutes | 2001

Director: Dominic Sena
Script: Skip Woods

cast
Halle Berry as Ginger Knowles
Hugh Jackman as Stanley Jobson
Drea de Matteo as Melissa
Kirk B.R. Woller as Axl’s Lawyer
Sam Shepard as Senator James Reisman
John Travolta as Gabriel Shear
Tim DeKay as Agent
Marina Black as Hostage
Denney Pierce as Hostage
Chic Daniel as SWAT Leader
Don Cheadle as Agent J.T. Roberts
Margaret Travolta as Hostage
Shawn Woods as Gabriel’s Crew
Tim Storms as Hostage
Zach Grenier as Assistant Director Bill Joy
Sam Travolta as Hostage
Vinnie Jones as Marco
Rudolf Martin as Axl Torvalds
Camryn Grimes as Holly Jobson
Angelo Pagan as Torres
Carmen Argenziano as Agent
Laura Lane as Helga
Tait Ruppert as Ad Agency Executive
Craig Braun as Coroner
William Mapother as Gabriel’s Crew
Ilia Volok as Gabriel’s Crew
Jonathan Fraser as Gabriel’s Crew
Leo Lee as Gabriel’s Crew
Kerry Kletter as Hostage
Ryan Wulff as Hostage
Ann Travolta as Hostage
Dana Hee as Hostage
Jeff Ramsey as Hostage
Joey Box as Hostage
Debbie Evans as Hostage
Jason Christopher as Club Kid
Jonathan Pessin as Club Kid
Scott Burkholder as FBI Geek
Mark Soper as FBI Geek
Craig Lally as Customs Agent
Rusty McClennon as Customs Agent
Mark Riccardi as Customs Agent
Debbie Entin as Helga’s Friend
Natalia Sokolova as Helga’s Friend
Anika Poitier as Helga’s Friend
Nick Loren as Dark Suit
Tom Morris as Policeman
Richard Householder as Policeman
Michael Arias as Policeman
Brenda Eimers as Holly’s Teacher
Timothy Omundson as Agent Thomas
Astrid Veillon as Bank Executive
Dean Rader Duval as Security Guard

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