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Wednesday June 6, 2001

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Travolta flick puts new spin on old themes

Headline Photo

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros.

Dangerous spy-guy Gabriel Shear (John Travolta, left) conspires with former jailbird and computer hacker Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman, center) and Ginger (Halle Berry, right) to steal $6 billion in the upcoming thriller "Swordfish." The film is in theaters Friday.

By Adam Pugh

Arizona Daily Wildcat

'Swordfish' hooks audiences with big effects and bigger surprises

Grade: B

Reusing old ideas is what the past few years of film have been about. And "Swordfish," a new thriller starring John Travolta, is only a slight exception.

What makes the film work is utilizing a bunch of old ideas as a story base and twisting them around so it seems new. "Swordfish" cuts and pastes "The Matrix" into its own screenplay, adds a robbery, and creates a mixed-up plot that will keep audiences guessing until the end. The brainchild of producer Joel Silver - the brain behind "The Matrix" - "Swordfish" is a high-tech heist adaptation of that Keanu Reeves flick.

John Travolta has played many roles in his day, from dancing fiend to psycho killer, but he only seems natural in the parts where his heart lies. And while Travolta does not break new ground with his character in this film - a dangerous spy and thief named Gabriel Shear - he manages to pull off the clichˇd character with wit and intelligence.

Shear seeks to defraud the government of billions of dollars with the aid of a few good men and women. Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman) is a down-on-his-luck hacker who will do anything for his only daughter. With Jobson's expertise and Shear's connections, the mixture soon turns into a lot of high-speed chases and explosions that rival the effects of most blockbuster movies.

The plot speeds along through a huge bank heist and, of course, an ever-expanding body count. "Swordfish" takes the conventional movie idea of good guy-bad guy and blurs the lines between what is right and wrong in the world of cyberspace. One minute everything is going as planned and then something goes wrong - at least that's what they want the audience to think. But don't think about this too hard because everything in this movie is happening for a reason.

The acting may not always be up to par, but the over-the-top effects make up for the lost ground and if that doesn't satisfy your craving for summer blockbuster entertainment, Halle Berry (Ginger) gets very topless for all of the fans out there. "Swordfish," after all, is about titillating its audience and putting its hastily-drawn characters through extreme situations simply for the viewing pleasure. Jobson, for example, is, at one point, given one minute to break into a federal Web site with a gun to his head and a woman giving him a little, well, oral moral support.

Talk about distractions, but that is the fun of this movie.

While the audience is busy looking one way, there is something going on elsewhere. By entertaining with endless scenes of guns and people blowing up, the story turns out to be surprising and fun. In the end all of the loose ends are, of course, tied up in a pretty little pile of perfection and "Swordfish" even manages to give a whole new meaning to the term "happily ever after."