Friday 12 August 2011


“It’s easy to pick apart bad acting, short-sighted directing and a purely moronic stringing together of words that many of the studios term as prose,” says John Travolta in the pompous monologue that opens the film. 

The trouble with Hollywood, he goes on to inform us, is the absence of realism: “It’s not a pervasive element in today’s modern American cinematic vision.” 

Well, if ever there was ever a film to remind us of the point it’s Swordfish (2001). 

The ‘Volta’ plays a super-criminal plotting to rob the US Government of $9bn dollars. Only he’s not really a thief, but a patriot who heads up a secret society dedicated to exacting revenge on America’s enemies. (Although given Uncle Sam’s enthusiasm for public retribution it’s hard to understand why such an organisation is needed). 

Along the way there are object lessons in cinema verite such as the scene where Hugh Jackman’s character receives a blow job whilst hacking into US Government at gun point. And the scene where a school bus carrying Travolta and his team is scooped up by a transport helicopter and landed on top of a skyscraper.  

Yes, you can safely file Swordfish in your film collection somewhere between your Ken Loach and Dogme box sets. 

But anyway, enough on the dribbling nonsense that constitutes the plot. Let’s talk about the exploding helicopter.  

The climax of the film has its scientology bothering star and his assembled henchmen atop the skyscraper ready to make their escape in their backup chopper. But, to make good their getaway, they need to blow up the one they arrived in.  

Fortunately, the presence of a rocket launcher has been established earlier with some needlessly graphic expository dialogue: “I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking if that rocket launcher was a suppository would that bad man stick it up my ass?” 

As Travolta and his team jump aboard the waiting helicopter, Jackman (who’s meant to be computer geek) grabs the rocket launcher and shoots down the chopper. 

Despite being part pf film’s climax, the explosion is underwhelming. All the viewer gets is a brief CGI fireball before the camera cuts away. Rubbish. 

Like Travolta, all that’s left to do is wonder at the state of modern American cinema. 

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