Swordfish (2001)

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Released 12-Dec-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio
Dolby Digital Trailer-Train
Filmographies-Cast & Crew-covers 7 main actors
Audio Commentary-Dominic Sena (Director)
Featurette-Making Of
Featurette-The Effects In Focus
Alternate Ending-2 (with commentary)
Interviews-Cast-John Travolta/Hugh Jackman - Rove Live
Theatrical Trailer
DVD-ROM Extras-InterActive Player
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2001
Running Time 95:05
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (44:53) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Dominic Sena

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring John Travolta
Hugh Jackman
Halle Berry
Don Cheadle
Case Soft Brackley-Transp
RPI $34.95 Music None Given

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio Unknown Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    001011100010101 DECYPHER. Don't talk, just listen!

    Back in the 80s, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration set up a secret dummy corporation known as Operation: Swordfish funded by laundered drug money. When it was shut down back in 1986, the company had generated $400 million in cash which was left sitting around. That was 15 years ago, and together with interest there is a total of $9,501,036,814.36 that had been untouched, until now.

    A covert counter-terrorist unit set up by J. Edgar Hoover called the Black Cell, which is headed by Gabriel Shear (John Travolta) and his silent partner Senator Reisman (Sam Shepard), requires the money to help finance their war against international terrorism. Unfortunately, the funds are locked away behind a firewall in a computer network backed with super-encryption. It will be one tough system to crack.

    Gabriel is responsible for gaining access, and his plan to raid the slush fund involves storming the bank in broad daylight using a dozen mercenaries, massive weaponry and hostages. In order to pull it off, he sets out to hire the world's best computer hackers to do the job. Through some investigative research by the attractive Ginger (Halle Berry), he tracks down a convicted hacker named Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman). Stanley reluctantly decides to take on the job after passing an exciting, if not downright unusual, interview process. Even though he is forbidden to touch a computer because of his hacking of the FBI’s controversial high-tech cyber surveillance operations, the cash reward is too great a temptation and it will allow him to take custody of his daughter Holly (Camryn Grimes) and start a new life.

    Once Stanley enters this world that exists within our world, he soon realises that he cannot escape and is only one part of an extensive operation that turns out to be a lot more than a simple bank heist. There is an intentional grey cloud placed over the cast members, making it difficult to determine the good from the bad. Combined with the FBI investigation that is slowly closing in on the operation, this makes for an explosive and action-packed movie.

    Produced by Joel Silver who brought us that other gem, The Matrix, and directed by Dominic Sena from Gone in 60 Seconds, the combination with the talented cast of Travolta, Jackman, Berry and Shepard makes this one movie that had my attention from the first to the last frame! Superb photography by Paul Cameron and special effects co-ordinated by Mike Meinardis (who both also worked on Gone in 60 Seconds) place Swordfish in the current #1 position in my collection.

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Transfer Quality


    The video transfer of this movie is absolutely superb, and is of reference quality.

    The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is extremely clear and extremely sharp except for the opening sequence, where the camera maintains focus on Travolta while he gives a speech that pulls you right into the story. This was an intentional ploy by the director to get our attention. The constantly changing focal length together with the tight camera shot really does this effectively. Elsewhere, the detail revealed by this transfer is second-to-none and exceptionally good. Shadow detail is exemplary, with an enormous amount of detail evident in the dimly-lit scenes. There is no low level noise.

    The colours were spot-on. There were no irregularities with the colour rendition of this transfer. Halle Berry's dresses, when worn, were always bright and rich in colour with no colour bleed and were a good example of the general clarity shown throughout the transfer.

    There was a lot of steam and smoke in certain scenes, which typically cause problems for MPEG encoding, but in this presentation there were no MPEG artefacts seen at all. Aliasing was limited to two brief appearances at 48:38 and 80:34 on a sign and a skyscraper respectively. Film artefacts are non-existent.

    The only subtitle track available is an English for the Hearing Impaired stream. This was presented in a clean, legible font. Whilst not exactly worded, it was close to what was being spoken on-screen.

    This disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change placed at 44:53. It is placed just after a high action scene which fades out to black. Because there is no on-screen vision, there is nothing to cause a distraction, making the layer change perfectly placed.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    This is a magnificent audio transfer, slightly favouring the front soundstage.

    The dialogue was clear and easy to understand at all times. I should mention that the dynamic range of this soundtrack is quite wide, so setting your listening level to hear the dialogue easily will mean that explosions will really rock your home theatre. I loved it! There was no hiss apparent in the dialogue.

    Audio sync was not a problem at all with this transfer, and was completely spot on.

    The musical score by Christopher Young and Paul Oakenfold was well-mixed and a fitting accompaniment for this style of movie. The action sequences tended to have a lot of surround presence and bass in the music to accentuate the action. This is certainly a soundtrack which will blow the cobwebs out of your subwoofer. At all times, it is an excellent match to the on-screen action.

    The surrounds are also quite aggressive, with excellent use of split surrounds and near-transparent imaging across all the channels. I did feel that more of the emphasis was towards the front but when the on-screen action warranted it, the rears certainly kicked in and provided some nice, sweeping action and a sense of envelopment. There are too many good examples to list, but two favourites would have to be at 7:22 and the sequence from 62:55 to 63:11 - CAUTION: the vibrations from the surrounds and a walloping from the sub may give some a nose bleed (!).

    The subwoofer was highly active during the action sequences, and placed an excellent bottom end on the soundtrack when required.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


    A good selection of extras are present and the DVD-ROM content is perfectly themed to fit in with the movie.


    The menu design is themed around the movie and is easy to navigate.


    This section provides a detailed profile complete with an up-to-date filmography for the following actors;

Commentary by Director Dominic Sena

    Sena provides detailed background information about all aspects of the presentation, ranging from technical problems to details about actors or requirements of the scene.

The Making of Swordfish (15:00)

    This was also informative and interesting to watch, but I would have liked it to go for another 15 minutes. It was presented in 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

The Effects In Focus (8:10)

    Technical issues and background details of the effect shots are discussed here. After seeing what the behind-the-scenes crew went through to bring this movie together, I appreciated it even more. The featurette is presented in 1.33:1 with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Alternate Endings (5:58) +/ Director's Commentary

    The two alternate endings for the film are shown here but the sound is very very quiet. The image is of poor quality and full of aliasing. The commentary from Sena explains why each ending was not used and the associated problems with trying to provide a nice close-off to the movie. In my opinion, they chose the right ending after seeing the other choices.

Exclusive Rove Live Interview with John Travolta and Hugh Jackman (23:28)

    It  was great to see the two actors talking at a general and personal level about all aspects of their lives. It was funny and it was clear to see that Travolta and Jackman obviously have a high regard for each other and must have hit it off well during the production. The commercials have been cut from the footage and it is presented as two equal parts merged together. The aspect ratio is 1.85:1 and it features Dolby Digital 2.0 sound.

Theatrical Trailer (2:06)

    This is a kicker of a trailer and really gets you excited about watching the presentation.

DVD-ROM Content

    Links to the Warner Brothers and Project Swordfish websites are provided from here. There is also an interactive game in the "Restricted Files" section that you can access by logging in with the proper password. If you guess it right, you'll find additional behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;     The Region 4 version would have to be the pick because of NTSC/PAL differences.


    The storyline, cast and crew made for a fantastic production presented beautifully, and one that now takes pride of place in my collection along with True Lies.

    The video quality is superb.

    The audio quality is also excellent. The more I watch it, the better the front soundstage focus seems to be mixed. It provides greater depth perception for when the rears are used by effects.

    The extras are well above par and the time taken by Sena to provide commentary for the entire movie was superb.

    Drop everything and get your copy now! . . . . CYPHER 010100110011010101

Ratings (out of 5)


© Peter Mellor (read my bio)
Friday, November 23, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer XV-DV55, using S-Video output
DisplayLoewe 72cm. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer XV-DV55
SpeakersPioneer S-DV55ST-K Satellite wall mouted 5-Speaker System; Pioneer S-DV55SW-K Powered Subwoofer

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