”Swordfish“ is one of those movies that I feel bad about owning, but whenever it's on television, I'm compelled to watch it.
This weekend, for example, it was on TBS and I tuned in even though there were several other more-worthy sporting events and entertainment programs on.
For me, the movie didn't even need the ubiquitous promotion that it received on the Superstation, with ads appearing at least twice for every half-hour program.
I think all of them had John Travolta's mug with that idiotic long hair.
As soon as I heard it would be on, I was locked in.
Don't get me wrong. This is truly a terrible movie. But on my personal ”Bad movies to Love Top 100,“ it's climbing fast. It's almost up there with movies like ”The Replacements“ or ”True Lies.“
The story line is intentionally unrealistic, and all the gunfire, chases and explosions push the movie along.
But what really drives it for me are the awful performances by an award-winning actor.
The biggest conflict in the movie isn't between Stanley, who wants back his daughter, and Gabriel Shear, who is using Stanley to hack into top-secret bank accounts worth millions of dollars.
The biggest conflict is between Travolta and the character he is playing. How can Travolta be playing an espionage mastermind who would need a soaring IQ to accomplish the things that Gabriel does?
Given, Travolta does street-smarts well in ”Pulp Fiction,“ and I guess in ”Phenomenon“ his portrayal of a super-genius whose intelligence is conveyed from the above is all right.
But in ”Swordfish“ he is just ridiculous.
When he takes a sip of his cappuccino or drags off his cigarette, then speaks in his nasal, intellectual voice, Travolta underscores why they should've picked someone like David Duchovny or Johnny Depp to play this role.
That way, when Gabriel Shear tries to use words like ”misdirection“ and explain complicated concepts like the tactical strategy against international terrorism, it doesn't sound like some freshman high-schooler whose trying to spout what he read on the cover of a Stephen Hawking book.
Despite all of my misgivings about the casting of this movie, it makes for some great one-liners.
Justin Boron is the government reporter for the News-Daily. His column appears Monday. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 or firstname.lastname@example.org