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Swordfish Review

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In a last attempt to win custody of his daughter, computer hacker Stanley Jobson becomes embroiled in a lethal money-making heist with the psychotic Gabriel Shear. Pursued by Agent Roberts and tempted by the mysterious Ginger, he soon discovers that no-one is what they seem.

★★★★★

On paper it spelt disaster. Dominic Sena following up his damp squib, Gone In 60 Seconds? John Travolta sporting another haircut that even Andrew Ridgeley would balk at? Christ. So, there was always plenty riding on the first ten minutes of Swordfish. One more mediocre action sequence, or dire one-liner, might just have sunk the entire endeavour before it had a chance. So, it comes as something of a relief that said ten minutes come in as frankly breathtaking, with a hostage situation going explosively wrong, and a bank employee (or, as Travolta's Gabriel Shear has it, "a walking Claymore mine") ending up splattered on the sidewalk, as well as innocent bystanders and anything else in a 500-yard radius.

It's a staggering sequence, shot in both slo and flo-mo, bleached hues, and the kind of kinetic pacing, which adds a unique and effective flavour. The remainder of the plot is, to be fair, utter tosh, while maintaining the early momentum naturally proves impossible - even the climax, in which an entire bus is attached to a helicopter and flown through the streets, feels like a step down. But there's more than enough in the way of shoot-outs and sex appeal to hold the attention. Ironically, Sena even manages to include a five-minute car chase that's more exhilarating than 60 Seconds in its entirety.

Likewise, this time around he makes the most of his cast, with Jackman largely living up to his post-Wolverine hype, Travolta back to more typical form as the charismatic bad boy and Cheadle providing seamless back-up. And even if Vinnie Jones is no doubt fuming that his part in proceedings has been edited down to little more than that of Henchman #1, Sena - having perhaps learned from wasting Angelina Jolie previously - grants Berry a surprisingly meaty role, as the unlikeliest Ginger ever to grace the screen. Oh, and anyone still questioning the $500,000 she was allegedly paid for her topless scene? Rest assured, she's ripping no-one off.

Techno tosh, but fitfully great fun all the same. Fantastic set-pieces, sexy leads, big bangs and half-a-million-dollar knockers all in the one package. If that's your bag, you could do much worse.

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