Will Pfeifer: Hugh Jackman stuck in 2001 hacker flick 'Swordfish'

Will Pfeifer

Hugh Jackman is a big star today. He’s hosted the Academy Awards and stars in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” which opened this weekend.

But before he could carry a movie by himself, Jackman appeared in 2001’s “Swordfish,” a movie that seemed cool at the time but looks bad now.

In “Swordfish,” Jackman plays a computer hacker saddled with (a) a criminal record and (b) the ancient plot cliche of a daughter he’s trying to get custody of. He falls in with a group of criminals led by John Travolta (in a ridiculous haircut) and Halle Berry (in a much-hyped nude scene). Eventually, he’s trying to beat the bad guys, steal billions and, of course, get custody of his daughter.

Jackman’s good-natured charm pulls him through “Swordfish” relatively unscathed, but the movie as a whole is surprising nasty. It opens with a robbery that ends in the death of dozens of cops and continues through various bits of murder and mayhem, all meant to be darkly entertaining. Unfortunately, it’s not. You might chuckle in parts and gasp in others, but when it comes right down to it, “Swordfish” is a movie about a guy typing on a keyboard — and no matter how many swooping cameras and colored lights you point at it, that’s still a dull thing to watch.

The title, by the way, comes from a password used in the Marx Brothers movie “Horse Feathers.” I recommend you watch that instead.

ContactWill Pfeifer at wpfeifer@rrstar.com or 815-987-1244. Read his blog at blogs.e-rockford.com/movieman/. See video reviews at rrstar.com/multimedia.