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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Heist > Swordfish (HD-DVD)

Swordfish (HD-DVD)


Picture: B     Sound: B     Extras: C     Film: C-



Dominic Sena is a Music Video director whose work is especially associated with Janet Jackson, helmed the overrated Kalifornia and unnecessary remake of Gone In 60 Seconds, but producer Joel Silver is always trying to get anyone and everyone who even begins to set off his built-in “hip/slick” radar.  Not that all his films have been winners, but he does go all out when he makes them.  A big producer since the 1980s, Swordfish (2001) was his last production before the events of 9/11 changed the genre for good.


Hugh Jackman is the dangerous criminal agent the CIA wants to coax into helping them into cyberspace and get unused funds for reasons unknown.  John Travolta, Jackman’s X-Men co-star Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Sam Shepard and Vinnie Jones round out the main cast as explosions and an obsession with computer screens compete with a very bad attempt at shuffling the story out of beginning-middle-end order that could not be Pulp Fiction on its best day.  Furthermore, this was the peak of a very pathetic series of would-be action films about computer hacking that never worked.  Its box office failure and 9/11 finally brought an end to the tired-on-arrival cycle.  As for the film, Miss Berry delivers her famous topless scene, but the Skip Woods script is a mess and the film has dated even worse than expected, more apparent in HD!


The film’s portrayal of the CIA is never believable and this was the point where Travolta’s second wind as a big star started to dim.  As soon as we are told Jackman’s character cannot touch a PC again, we know he will have his hands all over them faster than a crackhead in a supermarket full of filled vials.  The kind of chemistry the actors should generate falls flat in Sena’s narrative and character-challenged hands.  At 99 minutes, it just goes on and on and on.


The digital High Definition 1080p 2.35 X 1 image was shot in Super 35mm and then digitized, distorted and color altered throughout.  Ironically, since the opening of the film approximates an analog video signal with adjustment troubles, that gives one an idea of what to expect throughout.  Cinematographer Paul Cameron does a competent shooting job, but nothing to get excited about.  It is easier to watch a scope image, even a generic one, in a 16 X 9/1.78 X 1 frame versus the older standard definition TV ratio of 1.33 X 1.  The Dolby Digital Plus is about on par with better DTS tracks in thickness, but the 5.1 mix is so squared off and boring, that even DTS HD would not improve on this much.  The Christopher Young/Paul Oakenfold score is so mechanical as to be corny.   Both performance aspects do outdo the regular DVD in the performance department, but for a film that has dated more quickly than expected, better Warner issue this in HD now than later.


Extras include those on the regular DVD, including commentary by Sena, two alternate endings that would have made no difference, the trailer, cast/crew interviews and three featurettes.  For fans of the actors only, if that.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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