a film by Dominic Sena

John Travolta, Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, DonCheadle and Vinnie Jones. Directed by Dominic Sena. Produced by Joel Silver, Jonathan D. Krane, Jonathan Krane and Steve Richards. Written by Skip Woods. Distributor: Warner Brothers

If you read the reviews to pick up the CW on recent releases, you've already caught the stink on Swordfish, like three-day-old flounder left in the sun. Critics are lining up to dump on this flick, falling all over each other to tell us how dumb it is, that it's just another installment in the Mindless Cinema of Violence, another harebrained summer action flick without any appeal to human universals, completely lacking in believable characters or solid motivations, devoid of any insight into the human condition, relying on its slick production, hi-yield tactical nuclear pyrotechnics, appalling body count and kinetic pacing to gloss over the Tycho-sized holes in the plot.

Well, duh! These "critics" remind me of a clown who orders a Whopper with fries and a Coke and then flips a bitch when he doesn't get filet mignon with roasted redskins and a nice burgundy. When I bought my ticket for this self-proclaimed summer action flick, I knew I was ordering a hamburger. So the filmmakers Super-SizedTM it, no extra charge. I should be mad?

"You know what the problem with Hollywood is?" Travolta asks us in the first line of the movie. "They put out shit." For cryin' out loud, the star himself tells us what's coming to the table. If that's not enough of a clue that you're in the wrong damn restaurant, hey--maybe Whoppers are more your speed, anyway, intellectually speaking.

This movie is exactly what it claims to be, no more and no less. Critics are bitching that the plot is too full of twists and turns to make any sense-just too hard to follow. Maybe they should cut down on the Chocolat. The plot made perfect sense to me--it was just dumb, is all. There's this guy named Stanely who's a mega-hacker, see, maybe the best ever, gave the Feds a real run for their money a few years back before they popped him and promised to cut off his nuts if he ever even thought about touching a computer again. Stanley (Hugh Jackman) has lost his job, his skanky wife, his daughter and his self-respect. Your basic Down On His Luck Pretty Boy With A Skill Indispensable To The Plot, living in the middle of a Texas oilfield in a dingy trailer with a bunch of dirty laundry and warm beer. Halle Barre and her tits show up to recruit this loser into a plot involving a shadowy Kaiser-Soze-wannabe named Gabriel Shear (Travolta). After an audition involving a silenced sidearm, world-class fellatio and a hack into the DoD mainframe (simultaneously!), Stanley gets the job. Notwithstanding the silencer and the fellatio and the chance to work with all this swell equipment (five monitors, whoo!) Stanley stands to earn enough moolah to legally wrest his daughter from the clutches of aforementioned skanky ex-wife. (Hey critics! That's the motivation. Get it? Subtle, huh?)

Stanley's gig is to help Gabriel pilfer about $400 million of dirty federal drug money which, thanks to fifteen years of neglect and the Miracle of Compound Interest, has become about $9 billion of dirty federal drug money. These funds will then be used in an illicit covert war on international terrorists, waged by a single crooked Senator, Gabriel Shear and an army of anonymous goons with missile launchers, Armani suits and low foreheads. The idea is to fund a $9 billion cattle prod up the ass of international terrorism, making any attack on Americans or American soil unthinkable. Osama wants to fuck with us? We'll fuck with him. Big time.

And that's the setup. I wasn't confused at all. Pass the popcorn.

In accordance with Sullydog's Theory of Literature, once the setup is in place and everybody's motivation has been clarified (sorta), Everything Gets All Fucked Up. That, of course, is when all the explosions start, with the shooting and the yelling and the booby-trapped hostages falling out of the buses hanging from the helicopter over downtown LA with the cops running around clueless and the missile launchers and the car chases and the biting and the scratching.. ..

There's enough set pieces in this mindless romp to fill your Grandma's china hutch. Director Dominic Sena, who brought you the similarly mindless and equally fun Gone in 60 Seconds has made it a point to go over the top on every freakin' one of them, because he knows we like our hamburgers full of things that are bad for us but really tasty, like grease and salt and, well, ground meat.

Not everybody can put those ingredients together properly (remember Armageddon?), but Sena can. This is a decent hamburger. It's so bad but it goes down so good. It's exactly what you ordered. And if it's not, then you shouldn't have walked through the door in the first place.

Speed meets Hackers.

Sullydog Approves.

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