Swordfish (2001)

 ●  English ● 1 hr 39 mins

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Embedded with fierce action and terrific thrill, this fast-paced crime drama delves into the fluctuating fortunes in the life of a convicted hacker Stanley Jobson, whose only desire in life is to see his daughter, Holly again, but finds himself unable to do so because his ex-wife has not only sole custody over Holly, but also a restraining order against him seeing her. When the DEA shut down its dummy corporation operation code-named 'swordfish' in 1986, they had generated $400 million which they let sit around; fifteen years of compound interest has swelled it to $9.5 billion. A covert counter-terrorist unit called Black Cell, headed by the duplicitious and suave Gabriel Shear, wants the money to help finance their raise-the-stakes vengeance war against international terrorism, but it's all locked away behind super-encryption. To ensure that the funds are released, Gabriel Shear wants Stanley's hacking expertise, but one of the conditions of his parole is that case for Britain from touching, much less using, a computer. However, desperate for some quick cash to pay for a lawyer who can get him to see his daughter, Stanley accepts. Now, the question remains, Can he succeed in slicing into the government mainframes, get the money, and finally have the opportunity of meeting his daughter, without getting caught?
See Storyline (May Contain Spoilers)

Cast: Halle Berry, Hugh Jackman, John Travolta

Crew: Dominic Sena (Director), Paul Cameron (Director of Photography), Christopher Young (Music Director), Paul Oakenfold (Music Director)

Genres: Action, Crime, Thriller

Release Dates: 08 Jun 2001 (India)

Tagline: Log on. Hack in. Go anywhere. Steal everything.

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Did you know? The helicopter is a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane (CH-54 Tarhe). It is now being used to fight bush fires across Australia. Read More
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as Ginger Knowles
as Stanley Jobson
as Gabriel Shear
as Torres
as Holly Jobson
as SWAT Leader
Supporting Actress
as Agent J.T. Roberts
as Melissa
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
as Axel's Lawyer
as Axl Torvalds
as Senator James Reisman
Supporting Actor
as Marco
as Assistant Director Bill Joy


Second Unit Director
First Assistant Director
Second Assistant Director
Assistant Director


Executive Producer
Associate Producer




Screenplay Writer
Story Writer
Dialogue Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography
Still Photographer


Music Editor


Sound Effects Designer
Sound Re-recording Mixer
Boom Operator


Production Designer
Prop Master
Set Decorator
Set Designer
Set Dresser
Storyboard Artist


Casting Director

Costume and Wardrobe

Costume Designer


Makeup and Hair

Makeup Artist
Special Effects Makeup Artist
Hair Stylist

Special Effects

Special Effects Coordinator
Special Effects Technician
Special Effects Studio


Stunt Director
Stunt Double
Stunt Performer

Visual Effects

Visual Effects Producer
Visual Effects Supervisor
Digital Compositor
Film Type:
Feature Film
Colour Info:
Sound Mix:
Dolby Digital, DTS, Sony Dynamic Digital Sound
ARRIFLEX 435, Panaflex Lightweight, Panaflex Millenium XL, Panaflex Platinum, Panavision Panaflex
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1
Log on. Hack in. Go anywhere. Steal everything.
Once you know the password you can go anywhere.
Log In. Log Out. Leg It!
Password Accepted
Log On. Hack In. Go Anywhere. Get Everything.
The Finnish hacker has is a mixture of different versions of German passports. There used to be green German passports, but that was before the time of computer-readable plastic-cards inside the passports. Since German passports have this card inside, they have always been red.

Audio/Video Mismatch
When Stanley and Ginger are in the bathroom of the club, just after he is forced to hack into the department of defense, the boom mic is clearly visible in the reflection of one of the mirrors.

Character Error
The $400 million in DEA money is said to have grown, "with interest", to $9.5 billion in 15 years. That would represent a compound interest rate of over 21% per year, which is unrealistic. At 12%, the money would have grown to a little less than $2.4 billion. At a more realistic 6%, it would be about $981 million, or a little over one-tenth of the value claimed in the movie.

Character Error
In the film's opening speech, Gabriel Shear discusses Dog Day Afternoon as being a "1976" work of "fiction" that didn't "push the envelope" and showed Hollywood's "lack of realism." Dog Day Afternoon was a true story, not fiction, depicted realistically. The film ended the way the true story ended. It was released in 1975, and the film's action takes place in 1972.

Character Error
Axl Torvalds is said to be a Finn, but he is speaking German with his lawyer.

Character Error
Shear mentions Dog Day Afternoon as being from 1976.

US broadcast TV versions use alternate "top on" footage of Ginger's sunbathing scene (see Alternate Versions) but only for the front view; over-the shoulder shots use the theatrical take, causing the bikini's neck strap to vanish and reappear throughout the scene.

When hacker Axl Torvalds presents his passport to the customs officer it clearly shows the Bundesadler watermark. The second customs officer then finds the second passport which also has the Bundesadler watermark. Yet, when the first customs officer holds up both passport, one has the watermark and the other doesn't. The unmarked passport was not seen until that moment.

When Stanley enters decryption code on the screen we see about 10 lines of code on the first shot. When the camera returns a couple of seconds later, the same 10 lines are being reproduced.

When Stan drops his daughter off, and the FBI agent gets in, after Stan breaks the agents nose he backs into the right door of the FBI car denting it and shattering the window. After they roll down the hill, and Stan rolls over the car, the right door is undamaged.

When Ginger first arrives at Stanley's trailer, as she pulls up and gets out, he puts a golf ball on the tee and stares at her. Then as she comes up to him he puts a golf ball on the tee again and stares at her as if he just noticed her.

In the first scene with Stanley and Ginger, she tosses him an expandable envelope full of money and tells him that it contains "a hundred grand." But the insert shot of its contents shows only $40,000.

Crew/Equipment Visible
In the coffee shop, closeups of Shear show the reflection of a bright white rectangular reflector in his sunglasses. In the reverse shot, from his point of view, there is only a window with a view of the street.

Errors in Geography
When Stanley first goes to Gabriel's house and is standing by the pool, there is a clear shot of many skyscrapers in what appears to be downtown Los Angeles. However, when the FBI is doing surveillance on the house during the day, it is suddenly on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean with no skyscrapers in sight.

Errors in Geography
The conversation with Senator Reisman and his aide near the beginning of the film is supposed to be in Washington D.C. however, the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles can clearly be seen on the left side of the screen before the characters walk outside.

Factual Mistake
At almost the end of the movie, when the glass door of the banks computer mainframe is opened, you can clearly see that the network cables between the Dell servers are bonded together with plastic TY-raps. This is faulty, the cables should be bonded together with Velcro. Plastic TY-raps can be tightened to hard, which changes the characteristics of the cables.
Halle Berry agreed to the topless scene - ostensibly for an extra fee of $500,000 - because she wanted to overcome her fear of doing nude scenes. This was on top of her initial fee of $2 million.

John Travolta turned down the part of Gabriel a total of six times. He changed his mind when he heard director Dominic Sena's take on it.

The opening scene of Swordfish is the most complicated visual effect in Warner Brothers history. It was shot using Matrix-like effects (The Matrix (1999)) by Frantic Films of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. The effect has so many composites in it that the producers and director of the film could not determine what was real and what was created by computer.

The dramatic explosion at the start of the film was captured using 135 synchronized still cameras.

Rudolf Martin plays Axl Torvalds, a hacker of some renown in the film. The character is named after Linus Torvalds, a "hacker" in real life, who wrote Linux Kernel, the original code for the open source computer Operating System named after him, Linux. Axl and Linus are both Finnish.

When Gabriel is recruiting Stanley he mentions "Vernam encryption." In real life Gilbert Vernam worked at Bell labs in the early 1900s and patented a special cipher that was eventually proved to be "uncrackable."

The car that Gabriel drives is a British-made TVR Tuscan. The car was not sold in the United States as it was a limited production vehicle and TVR made no attempt to federalize it.

When Stanley and Agent Roberts are reviewing their past dealings Roberts accuses Stanley of hacking into the US government's Carnivore system and Stanley claims he did it because the government was illegally spying on US citizens' emails. This plot line was likely considered a far-fetched notion to viewers of a movie that was released months before the 9-11 attacks and more than a year before real-life government spying of the kind described in the movie was exposed.

Most of the cast have starred in films based on Marvel comics: Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry played Wolverine and Storm in the "X-Men" films. John Travolta later played Howard Saint in "The Punisher". Don Cheadle played Colonel James Rhodes in the "Iron Man" sequels. Vinnie Jones would go on to play Juggernaut in "X-Men: The Last Stand" working again with Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry and Zach Grenier would later play Mr. Sherman/Rafke in "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer".

Unlike many Hollywood movies, the amount of the ammunition in firearms is depicted correctly. During the chase sequence, Gabriel fires a total of 89 shots from M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, which carries a 200 round box.

The helicopter is a Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane (CH-54 Tarhe). It is now being used to fight bush fires across Australia.

At one point during Stanley's attempt to hack into the Department of Defense database, his screen shows six numbers that appear to be IP addresses. (The first is 213.225.312.5.) The numbers between decimal points in an IP address, called "octets", are decimal representations of 8-bit numbers (8 binary digits of either 0 or 1). Therefore, the range of decimal numbers for an octet is 0 to 255, because 11111111 in binary is 255 in decimal. The IP addresses on Stanley's screen each contain one octet higher than 255 (such as 312 in the first example), which is apparently the filmmakers' way of ensuring that no one's real IP address appeared.

6 TVRs were imported especially to be used for Gabriel's car.

The original screenplay draft had a very different take on the Gabriel Shear character. He was first written as a mercenary whose plan for the stolen DEA funds had him joining forces with military and intelligence figures and planning to destroy corrupt politicians, and had several lengthy monologues in which U.S. agents listened to him and then joined his crusade on the spot. While the funding/covert war angle was maintained, Skip Woods later remade Gabriel Shear into a patriotic agent who seeks to destroy world terrorists, and who kills the Senator and his aide for trying to kill him and stop his plans.

The scene in which the school bus is swung was actually shot by hiring a group of people to sit in a bus, in front of a blue screen, while they swung the bus from a crane. According to the stunt coordinators, the same effect could have been portrayed for half the cost.

This is the second film in which John Travolta makes a reference to the film "Dog Day Afternoon." In the opening scene, he discusses the film in great detail. And in "Saturday Night Fever," he impersonates Al Pacino's "Attica!" chant from the film. Coincidentally, Swordfish was released in 2001 and in Saturday Night Fever, "2001" is also the name of the disco where he dances.

The office scene at the end, opens with a receptionist walking across the room with a pot of coffee, right before the bus crashes through the windows. The girl in that role is Erin Bradshaw. She was hired to work as a Production Asst. on the movie after walking up to the production trailer one day, and asking if they had openings. On the last day of shooting...the girl who was originally cast to play that part was stuck in traffic. The Asst Director called over to production, for "that blonde PA to get to set...STAT" when she arrived on set, they asked her to be the part of the receptionist in the movie.

In the scene where Axl Torvalds arrives at the airport, the customs officer checks his passports: one is a German one and the other a Finnish passport.