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File:Swordfish 001 7794.jpg

A middle-of-the-road hacker film starring John Travolta and X-Men actors Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry (and future X-actor, Vinnie Jones). The plot revolves around Stanley Jobson, a paroled hacker who is drawn into a complicated Travoltian Xanatos Roulette by Gabriel Shear and his beautiful assistant Ginger. Stanley, in desperate need of money to gain custody of his daughter, agrees to help Gabriel steal money from the government to run his vigilante counter-terrorism unit.

Tropes used in Swordfish include:
  • Affably Evil: Gabriel is this, crossed with a helping of America-centric Well-Intentioned Extremist (by his lights, anyway).
  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Bilingual Bonus: Sort of. Any Finnish speaker will tell you that the "language" spoken by the Finnish hacker and his legal counsel is most definitely not Finnish (it's actually German, and changed to something else in the German dub).
  • Chekhov's Gun: Gabriel's lecture to Stan about famous magician Harry Houdini and the importance of "misdirection" helps Stan later realise that "Gabriel" didn't die in the helicopter that Stan shot down.
  • Cool Car: The TVR Tuscan that Gabriel drives. Powerful four-litre engine, lightweight fibreglass body, unique chameleon-style paint, machine gun in the trunk.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Gabriel opens the film pondering the potential success of a movie where the hostage taker gets away with everything. During the hostage negotiation, he even orders a plane on a runway. By the end of the film, he and Ginger come out on top over Stan, their plan a complete success.
  • The Dragon: Gabriel Shear. Turns out to be Dragon-in-Chief. Until he kills the senator for wanting to stop the operation, and continues the operation.
  • Explosive Leash: Completed with over two kilograms of stainless steel balls, turning each hostage into "the world's largest claymore mines."
  • Faking the Dead: Gabriel Shear kills his female subordinate to show that he is serious. Only she's not really dead, obviously.
    • The body of the real Gabriel Shear (a Mossad agent) was in the wreck to make everyone think the Dragon-in-Chief was dead. See also Chekhov's Gun.
  • Famous-Named Foreigner: Axl Torvalds.
  • Fan Service: Seems to be Halle Berry's main purpose in the movie. Also in-universe her character to Stanley.
  • Hacker Cave
  • Hollywood Hacking: The writers were aware of it; the dialogue describing the actual hacking is pure technobabble that any computer expert would call Critical Research Failure immediately.
  • Idiot Ball: The police hold this at the start/near-end of the film. They shoot one of the hostage-takers to rescue a hostage in the middle of negotiations with the leader. Never mind that so blatantly rescuing just one hostage would be liable to provoke the others to start killing, regardless of the negotiations currently going on, she's quite obviously got a bomb strapped to her. Even if they didn't know what the bomb is capable of, that's reason enough not to act so recklessly. The predictable happens.
  • In Medias Res: The film starts with a scene close to the end of the film, just to kick the plot off with a big explosion.
  • Involuntary Charity Donation: Only as an alternate ending on the VHS version (also featured as a DVD extra), where the hacker transferred money while her daughter watched. The canonical ending has the bad guys get away with the money.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Gabriel Shear is working under Senator James Reisman. Up until Reisman tries to have him killed, at which point all bets are off.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The opening of the film has the SWAT team "rescue" a hostage being shown off to demonstrate the fancy explosives Gabriel has equipped them with. They get all of twenty feet before the Explosive Leash kicks in and blows up a sizable chuck of the police force on-scene.
  • Playful Hacker: Stanley Jobson. Arguably Deconstructed - he's got the requisite madskillz and moral compass, but this just means The Government is that much more smug when they catch up with him and punish him for his actions: destroying the FBI Carnivore program was actually praised by enough of the public to force them to parole him away from computers instead of giving him a prison sentence. But, when his wife divorces him due to him losing his job, they have a judge award his alcoholic wife with their daughter even after she marries the porn king she works for. The FBI even brags about how his daughter will end up "a fluffer in her new daddy's videos" as punishment for him screwing up their ability to read every American's email.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Surprisingly averted. Except at the end, where the password is actually "swordfish". Otherwise, there are no passwords to speak of.
    • "Password: Swordfish" is the tagline/unofficial title of the film.
  • Short-Lived Aerial Escape: Gabriel just so happens to have a helicopter to hand and tries to use it to escape in only for Stan to blow it up with a heat seeking missile. Turns out it's all part of his game of Xanatos Roulette.
  • Shout-Out: The character Axl Torvalds is named after Linus Torvalds, who wrote the Linux Kernel. Assistant Director Bill Joy is named after Bill Joy, co-founder and former chief scientist of Sun Microsystems.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The movie opens with Gabriel monologuing.
  • Xanatos Roulette: Stan being able to Hollywood-Hack a 1,024-bit encryption in 1 minute, the FBI having no actual rescue plan for a hostage situation, not-dead Ginger escaping before the FBI could rush the bank and find her, the airlifted bus not falling completely, Stan successfully blowing up Gabriel's chopper. Any number of these things could have derailed the plan.