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Packed to the gills with thrills

Packed to the gills with thrills

John Travolta and Hugh Jackman go head to head in explosive noughties action romp Swordfish

As Hollywood heavyweight Hugh Jackman prepares for a world tour, we explore the film that helped establish the all-singing, all-dancing X-Man as an A-list star

Swordfish, Wednesday 23 January, 9pm, TCM/HD (CH 415/416)

Sure, his superhero turn as Wolverine in 2000’s X-Men gave Hugh Jackman his first boost into Hollywood’s consciousness, but it was Swordfish that established him as a true leadinb man, capable of going toe to toe with big-name stars.


Jackman plays Stanley Jobson, a convicted computer hacker who’s desperate to get his life on the straight and narrow, and regain custody of his daughter. That’s why he listens when a mysterious woman named Ginger (Halle Berry) approaches him with a proposal promising a huge payout.

Unfortunately for Jobson, it’s not as simple as typing up a few spreadsheets, as Ginger’s boss turns out to be Gabriel (John Travolta), an unhinged megalomaniac with some seriously criminal plans in mind.


Travolta’s bad guy is a gloriously over-the-top villain who lives an incredibly ostentatious life outside the confines of the law. He’s also a master strategist and ensures his plans keep him several steps ahead of the authorities at all times. From manufacturing hostage situations to double-crossing his own allies, nothing is off limits for this Machiavellian mastermind. Gabriel demands perfection (except perhaps from his hairdresser), meaning that Jobson’s position (and life) is constantly balanced on a knife edge.


Swordfish is a high-concept, high-stakes, high-octane action thriller with a truly memorable opening scene. It’s also a movie that was prescient in its view of the destructive power of hacking and the power of the internet as a tool for corruption.


It’s also got one of the best casts around, with Don Cheadle as the FBI agent on Jobson’s tail, Sam Shepard as Gabriel’s financier and Vinnie Jones as hired thug Marco. Combined with some Tarantino-inspired touches from director Dominic Sera, amazing action scenes and Hugh Jackman looking stressed in front of a computer, this is one noughties action smash you’d be mad to miss.



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