a survey of summer movies that just didn’t catch on

June 8, 2001

These next two Summer Flings will not be wannabe tentpole Happy Meal type movies with action figures, but adult-aimed studio action thrillers that arrived with a thud. SWORDFISH was heavily hyped as the movie where Halle Berry (THE CALL), not long before winning her Oscar for MONSTER’S BALL, appeared topless. But the star is her fellow X-Man Hugh Jackman (THE MISERABLES), suddenly a leading man after the world fell in love with his Wolverine in 2000. He plays Stanley Jobson, legendary hacker who is no longer allowed to touch a computer or visit his daughter Holly (Camryn Grimes, MAGIC MIKE). He’s leaner than we’re used to him now, with an earring and spiky, slightly frosted hair, like an early Tom Jane character. Unlike in REAL STEEL, where he reluctantly formed a relationship with his estranged son, this guy will do anything to get his kid back.

Though an ex-con, Stanley is 100% good guy. We find out, of course, that his big crime was a hacktivism/whistleblower type thing where he planted a virus in an intrusive FBI spying program. (In my opinion Julian Assange and Edward Snowden both fantasize about being Stanley Jobson and this movie is their SCARFACE.) He’s trying to be a good boy now, and is introduced wearing only a towel and hitting golf balls off of his trailer in an oil field in Midland, Texas. A mysterious stranger named Ginger (Berry) shows up knowing everything about him and sexily harasses him into flying to L.A. to meet her boss, Gabriel Shear (John Travolta, BROKEN ARROW).

First we hear another best-hacker-in-the-world (Rudolf Martin, THE COLLECTOR) describe Gabriel: “He exists in a world beyond your world. What we only fantasize, he does. He lives a life where nothing is beyond him.” We see this incredible expensive-suit-wearing, soul-patched uberman pulling up to a club in an expensive sports car of some kind, being let right in, a bevy of women immediately surrounding him. This was after BATTLEFIELD EARTH, so I’d say Travolta was on the downswing from his post-PULP FICTION resurgence. Though they give him some cringe-inducing fake-Tarantino-isms (more on that later) this was a couple years after THE MATRIX, so their idea of making him cool was for him to be a mysterious leader in a subculture of hacker/electronic dance music aficionados. The score is by Christopher Young (HELLRAISER) with three-time “Best Trance DJ” DJ Award Winner Paul Oakenfold.

Stanley reluctantly takes Gabriel’s offer for a job apparently involving some kind of bank robbery happening four days later in an opening flash-forward. Ginger is basically the honeypot, looking amazing and acting suggestive to lure him in – sticking her butt out to hit a golf ball, finding reasons to mention his dick. From the looks of this shot shortly after she kneels down in front of him “to tie his shoes,” it works.

These people use sex as a weapon – when they first meet him they tell him he has one minute to break into a government database, and point a gun to his head and have a woman he was just introduced to blow him. According to Wikipedia, that actress, Laura Lane, went on to become the President of Global Public Affairs at UPS and a member of the Business Advisory Council for Africa. One day she’s playing demeaning bit parts like this and “Hot Girl” on some TV show I never heard of, the next she’s being interviewed for the Frontline special Ghosts of Rwanda about her efforts as a diplomat during the genocide. Truth really is stranger than fiction, huh?

I really like this poster. Looks like their album cover. They would never hang out together like this but who cares? It’s kinda classy.

Well, not really in this case, because the IMDb profile and articles about the UPS lady give different birth places, and their photos don’t really look like the same person. I’m pretty sure somebody mistakenly combined two separate Laura Lanes into one Ultra-Laura-Lane.

Still, VERY unprofessional job interview in this scene, in my opinion. But this was before yelp and stuff so they get away with it.

Ginger convinces Stanley that it’s a quick job that can pay his legal bills, and he doesn’t have to feel bad about it. Probly similar to the pitch they gave Berry to get her in the movie  – she reportedly got them to add an extra half million onto her $2 million. That’s the most she’d been paid at that point, but still bullshit because Travolta got $20 million! Even the Church of Scientology would have to admit that Berry’s brief sunbathing scene was a bigger draw than Travolta.

Ginger does get a little more complex later, and Berry’s presence (I’m not being suggestive here, I’m serious) does makes the movie more enjoyable, so I’m not mad at her for taking the paycheck.

The movie has a pretty flashy look with digitally enhanced colors (mostly green). We know it takes place either in L.A. or the Middle East, because some of it is tinted almost as yellow as THE CROW: CITY OF ANGELS. The opening credits are in jittery VHS for no apparent reason but as a whole it’s not stylized in a very intrusive way, like Avid-farts or confusingly fast editing, so it works.

SWORDFISH has a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes and a reputation for being terrible. Right at the opening I understood that reputation because it had me thinking “I hate this movie!” in about four seconds. It starts with Gabriel delivering a smarmy monologue about movies:

“You know what the problem with Hollywood is? They make shit. Unbelievable, unremarkable shit. Now I’m not some grungy wannabe filmmaker that’s searching for existentialism through a haze of bong smoke or something. No, it’s easy to pick apart bad acting, shortsighted directing, and a purely moronic stringing together of words that many of the studios term as prose. No, I’m talking about the lack of realism. Realism. Not a pervasive element in today’s modern American cinematic vision.

“Take DOG DAY AFTERNOON, for example. Arguably Pacino’s best work. Short of SCARFACE and GODFATHER PART I, of course. Masterpiece of directing, easily Lumet’s best. The cinematography, the ac–”

BLAH BLAH BLAH. Motherfucker, PULP FICTION was seven years ago, you’ve had enough time to figure out that fake Tarantino dialogue is the worst shit in the world. I dare any human to watch this and not want him to shut the fuck up as he spends the opening four minutes explaining his fake edgy, pseudo-intellectual theory that the DOG DAY robber would’ve gotten away with it if he started executing the hostages right away. And some other guys argue that it wouldn’t work because “audiences like happy endings” and “it’s a morality tale.”

And then OH MY GOD IT ZOOMS OUT AND THOSE ARE FBI AGENTS HAVING THIS INSUFFERABLE FILM STUDENT CONVERSATION WITH HIM AND A SWAT TEAM HAS HAD HIM AT GUNPOINT THIS ENTIRE TIME! Hats off to these officers for having the discipline and professionalism not to shoot him as soon as they realized he was trying to do a QT thing and that it was supposed to be ironic for a shitty studio movie to open by calling studio movies shitty and that it was setting up that he was gonna get away at the end and that it would be so fuckin subversive you would get the vapors in your pants.

He doesn’t actually try that tactic of killing the hostages, though. Instead one of the cops gets trigger happy and shoots somebody, and stupidly tries to pull the hostage away even though it has been established that everyone understands that she’s wearing a bomb vest that when she leaves the bank will explode and shoot huge ball bearings into everybody (which happens in Bullet-Time-esque show-off-vision). So, whichever officer that was is not included in my above praise.

Luckily this pointless meta thread about happy endings is mostly abandoned, save for a few dumb callbacks and a SUGARLAND EXPRESS namedrop (oh wow, that’s so cool, there’s this other writer I like who also saw some movies from the ’70s, you should check him out).

But as far as mostly routine, only slightly quirky potboilers go – honestly it’s watchable. Its idea of cool hacker culture is goofy in a way I can enjoy, especially now that it’s dated. For this type of movie I think it’s a compliment to say that there are a few ludicrous plot twists that keep it from going where you expect.

The action is not great but at least kind of novel: Stanley jumps down a steep cliff and there’s a long sequence of stuntment just rolling through dust. And then the big trailer moment is a bus full of hostages being carried around by a helicopter, that was kind of amusing. (Yes, there’s a part where some uptight people in an office building receive a surprise bus crash during their meeting.) Also there’s a big car chase where Jackman has to take the wheel so Travolta can utilize his Woo training.

The end (SPOILER) is a little weird because Stanley blows up Gabriel’s helicopter with a rocket launcher and then he and Don Cheadle go to identify the body at the morgue and Stanley realizes that it’s actually a dummy and seems mad about it but doesn’t say anything. I don’t really get it.

Oh yeah, I didn’t even mention that Don Cheadle (RUSH HOUR 2, HOTEL RWANDA) plays the agent who arrested Stanley and is chasing Gabriel. Not one of his great characters, but elevates the movie with his charisma. Drea de Matteo (‘R XMAS) is in it briefly as Stanley’s alcoholic porn star ex-wife. The recently departed Sam Shepard plays an evil senator and while this is a totally generic bad guy character and obviously not the type of thing he was respected for, it’s clear how perfect he was for that type of character and it’s cool that he could get a reliable paycheck while making any movie a little better. A fair exchange.

It’s also worth noting that Vinnie Jones (THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN by Bradley Cooper) is in here as a henchman. This is only his fourth movie and it seems like he’s not gonna have any dialogue, but then near the end they seem to remember that they put him there for a reason and he should have some parts where he does something. There’s a part where he tells Stanley he’ll see him later, which would seem like an in-joke if there was some way to have known he’d be joining Jackman and Berry five years later in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND.

Director Dominic Sena started in the ’80s as a hotshot music video director and co-founder of Propaganda Films with David Fincher and some other guys. Maybe his best known video was “Rhythm Nation” by Janet Jackson (her most Michael-esque video, I think).

And I have some good news, you guys. Sena also directed the video for “No Easy Way Out” by Robert Tepper, the song that represents Rocky Balboa’s thought process as he goes for a long drive after the death of Apollo Creed in ROCKY IV, both the movie and the stage musical*.

(*I wish.)

Also, it turns out there is video for “Top Gun Anthem” by Harold Faltermeyer and Steve Stevens. Sena directed that too and I think you should watch this.

Anyway, he likes warehouses and light beams.

Propaganda produced Sena’s feature film debut, KALIFORNIA, which I remember being the movie that made me realize Brad Pitt was an interesting actor and not just the dreamboat he’d been hyped as up to that point. But I haven’t seen it since the ’90s. It wasn’t very successful, and Sena didn’t direct another feature until GONE IN 60 SECONDS in 2000, quickly followed by this the next year. Since then he’s scaled down a little, only doing WHITEOUT (2009) and SEASON OF THE WITCH (2011).

This is the second produced screenplay by Skip Woods, who had written and directed THURSDAY starring Thomas Jane in 1998. At the time I thought that was a worthless Tarantino copycat (that review is vicious!) but it was so long ago I can’t be sure I wasn’t being too hard on it. Since then Woods has been involved in a string of mediocre or disappointing movies: HITMAN, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE (arguably the weakest of all X-Men films), THE A-TEAM, A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD (the only DIE HARD that in my opinion was never made and does not exist in any form please forget you even read its title here because you didn’t). But I definitely have a soft spot for SABOTAGE, so I can’t write him off entirely, and I should watch HITMAN: AGENT 47 so I’ve seen all his movies.

In 2013, Woods’ college friend Rob Thomas (not the Veronica Mars one) sued, claiming to have co-written all his screenplays without receiving a fair cut. The suit was settled.

Well, at least they don’t have to fight over merchandising cash. There wasn’t a comic book or anything. But there was a tie-in with Heineken. When Stanley’s living in the trailer he doesn’t have much food in his little fridge, but he has Heineken in both bottle and can.

I thought it was supposed to be chosen as a cheap working man’s beer, but the advertisements portray it as part of Gabriel’s high roller lifestyle where nothing is beyond him.

One could question my inclusion of SWORDFISH in the Summer Flings. It did open at #1, beating out other newcomers EVOLUTION and Disney’s ATLANTIS: THE LOST EMPIRE, and it made $147 million worldwide, more than its (surprisingly large) reported budget of $102 million. But it seems to me it bounced right off of the popular consciousness, leaving only a slight scuff in the shape of a punchline either having to do with Berry’s boobs or overall artistic suckiness.

It’s okay I guess.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 at 10:28 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Thriller. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

44 Responses to “Swordfish”

  1. This is one of those “terminally hip” movies which strokes itself for being clever, and its anything but that from what I recall.

    Three things:

    (1) weirdly I remembered the story as being Berry got a million dollar bonus to go topless, but that was 16 years ago and God knows my memory banks overtime might have enlarged the actual figure. I’m all for casual/gratuitous movie nudity so you Halle.

    (2) That scene for the TV cut, she’s wearing a bikini top. Did they reshoot that shot with the top on, or was it digitally painted on afterwards like how ABC did in the 2000s when somebody over there got hot and bothered with showing an old Bond movie (DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER? I can’t remember) with a shot of a lady’s exposed back so they computer painted a bra strap or something stupid. #WeirdCensorship

    (3) I like that they probably made the ex-wife be an alcoholic just to make sure people in general are supposed to despise just in case her doing porn isn’t enough to outrage folks as a bad parent outside of the Bible Belt. It’s weird the movie’s plot makes that porn employment a no no part considering Berry in the same movie was paid to go topless and was a major aspect of its marketing.

  2. I remember liking this a lot back in 2001, but I don’t think I have seen it since then. I might Casper that shit tonight.

    On a more serious note: When was the last time that real-world hackers did something good, like the ones in the movies? It seems like all they do is leaking TV episodes, useless e-mails of big companies or sabotaging elections for The Man. (Remember when Anonymous said they would release “explosive material” about Trump soon? That was more than a half year ago and nothing happened. I guess they are too busy rickrolling ISIS on Twitter.)

  3. HITMAN 2 has sort of ok-ish action but it’s really dumb and mediocre even by video game movie standards so I’d say you can skip it without missing much.

  4. this movie will always be a personal touchpoint for me because i was working for a multinational bank at the time on an internal piece of monitoring software

    being somewhat of a movie aficionado then like i am now and will be as long as i draw breath i codenamed the project “swordfish” as a joke months before the movie came out, because i had heard a little about the bank heist plot

    unfortunately my boss, who was not so attuned to coming cinematic attractions, liked the project a lot and started talking up “swordfish” to his superiors and their superiors, requesting further deployment and access to more sensitive banking systems

    that wasn’t supposed to happen

    as word spread my heart sank in the delighted and delightful email ccs and bccs amongst the upper management

    then the movie came out

    no one mentioned “swordfish” again

    soon after i left my office late one night on september 10, 2001, looked back at my office before getting on the subway, because there was a guy alone playing a slow and sad tune on his guitar under the sphere, that great sculpture between the wtc towers. it was a gorgeous still clear night and a postcard worthy scene. and it is seared in my mind now

    i resolved to go into work late the next day because it was 9 pm

    of course, i never did again

  5. CJ, i think that ‘explosive material’ is the Apprentice outtakes tape that Tom Arnold supposedly has, or has access to, on which DT is alleged to drop the n-bomb. Not sure why that hasn’t come to light either, but I’m not holding my breath. Not because I don’t think it will happen but because I don’t know if my sanity can survive hearing that, and then watching the White House act like it didn’t happen (or worse)

    Can sending a reminder to corporations that they’re only as powerful as their (perennially inadequate) cybersecurity be considered a good thing? I want to believe that’s what hacks like the HBO leaks are about, and not just ‘the lulz’..

  6. Jesus, BR.

    My university cinema would programme current Hollywood movies on weekends to pay the bills, and we got this one a week or two after September 11th. It played to surprisingly big crowds. The main draw was the final few seconds, where Travolta blows up a bin Laden surrogate along with his yacht; people clapped and hollered at that.

  7. “and is introduced wearing only a towel and hitting golf boys off of his trailer in an oil field in Midland, Texas.”

    This put a very weird picture in my head

  8. Matthew B. – Where did you go to university?

  9. I’ve always hated this movie. It was on tv not that long ago and I was watching it thinking that “yup still sucks.”

  10. University of British Columbia.

  11. Matthew B: that’s weird because i visited vancouver soon after

    i stopped and gawked at that big green statue in the airport of all the haida gods in a boat

    …and the first nation woman hired to interpret it gave me her phone number, i wasn’t 5 minutes on the ground

    my friend was pissed because i spent more time with her than him, he supposedly being the point of my visit

    but i saw a cool cross section of artistic and first nation vancouver i never would have otherwise

    also: there’s a neighborhood near gastown and the sun yat-sen garden that is a real life “the walking dead”

  12. Am i the only one who’s seen WHITEOUT?

  13. From my vague-ish memory WHITEOUT had a few good set-pieces, an almost-nude shower scene with Becks (not a complaint, I’ll take what I can get), a continuity error where Tom Skerritt amputates Kate’s finger off of her left hand, bandages it up, then a few scenes later she’s wearing the bandage on her other hand for the rest of the film. Also, some Aussie actor who had been in The Shield and was being prepped to become the NBT was in it. I hear he’s killing it now in Hawaii-5-Oh.

  14. Did not expect to see this in the Summer Flings. Was this the last R-rated for grown ups action movie positioned as a big summer movie?

  15. Fun Fact: Don Cheadle was tricked into being in this movie. Supposedly (according to Cheadle) the producers were pursuing him aggressively but he really didn’t like the script as written. The executive producer finally got Cheadle to sign on by telling him that the script would be thrown out and Cheadle would be able to re-build the character how he wished. As soon as he signed on the line which is dotted, Cheadle got a call from Sena welcoming him to the film, during which Sena told him in no uncertain terms that the script was the script and was not going to be changed.

    Cheadle was…less than thrilled.

  16. Just looked that opening monologue up on youtube. Good lord is it awful. Stunningly bad. So many problems on so many levels. Everything. Everything. E.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. from the words themselves, to the delivery of said words, to the shot composition, to the lighting, to the inconsistent application of camera tricks, to the costume design, to the hair and makeup… Every single thing is wrong and bad. It’s almost sublime how terrible it is.

    I remember thinking it was totally badass when I was in the 6th grade…

  17. Fred, good question. I looked it up to find any. The first one that came up is Miami Vice from 2009. There are probably other examples. Here is another one, Terminator 3 in 2003.

  18. I learned a really funny SWORDFISH tidbit from my friend Trevor P. He writes, “There’s a scene where Travolta says Thomas Jefferson executed a man on the White House lawn for treason. That didn’t happen, but has become such a persistent meme, especially among the far-right, that Monticello released a statement denying it. They specifically cite Swordfish!”


  19. Matrix sequels too but as for the Con Air/Face Off/Speed/True Lies high concept fare…

    I think Fast and the Furious, Charlie’s Angels, xxx and Bourne Identity really solidified that action could be for all ages. Or maybe Bad Boys II was just so vile it ruined it for everyone else.

  20. psychic: If showing companies that their cyber security is weak would be what they do, I would be totally okay with that, but it always seems to end with blackmail and “Beware, we gonna hurt you even more, because we can and we totally wanna see what happens next on our favourite show!”

    These days it really seems that the only people, who seem to use their computer skills to make the world better, are the John Swordfishs of the movie world, while we are stuck with scumbags and criminals like Assange and Kim Dotcom. (Or in the best case attention whores who do absolutely nothing relevant like Anonymous)

  21. I can’t even count how many times I stopped on this movie when channel surfing as a teenage boy just to see the Berry topless scene before switching to something else, I’ve still never seen the whole movie but that scene is burned into my memory.

    From what I did see it seemed like a terrible movie, however I did watch some of it not too long ago and the cheese factor now has more appeal, the early 00s are a strange time to look back on these days because it’s still very modern but dated enough to be cheesy, it creates this weird disconnect that you don’t get from watching something older that’s more blatantly retro.

  22. Vern, that article spoiled “Hamilton” (not the Peter Stormare/Mark Hamil version) for me. I didn’t know he died in duel in 1804.

    Joking aside, was it ever confirmed that Skip Woods was Bruce Willis writer that looked like his bodyguard on the set of “Live Free or Die Hard”. Kevin Smith told the story about rewriting his monologue, and there was the prescense of Willis writer that looked like a bodyguard. I can’t remember why I came to that conclusion. Smith might have killed him Skip, and that’s why i thought it was obvious it was him.

  23. I bet it is based off this bit of info,

    Woods is also a partner in Wetwork Tactical, LLC – a weapons handling and tactics consulting firm – with former Army Special Forces member Jimmy Littlefield.[citation needed]

  24. CJ — yeah, i’ll grant you that benevolence doesn’t seem to be the first priority for today’s real-life hackers. Bitcoin inventor/s “Satoshi Nakamoto” is the only other entity that comes to my mind, but even that seems more like an experiment to me than an intentional attempt to do something political.

  25. And I didn’t even mention the “Hey, let’s publish private pics from celebrity smartphones”-hackers.

    Seriously. Hackers are scum. (Unless of course, the good hackers from our real world prefer to do their good deeds in the dark, because a true hacker does not crave stardom. But until someone can prove that to me, I believe that the best thing about hackers is the soundtrack to the Angeline Jolie movie from the 90s. Seriously, whoever was responsible for putting that together, did a great job!)

  26. BR: Glad you had a good time in Vancouver. Most of the city’s great, but you’re right about Hastings Street ― only a couple of blocks away from upscale tourist neighbourhoods, and it’s one of the worst slums in Canada.

    When I first arrived in Vancouver I booked a hotel there, not knowing how bad it was. There were deals going down on every corner and all the storefronts were boarded up. The hotel sink was crawling with roaches. I was too exhausted to find another place that night, but the next morning I hauled my suitcases to the city bus and got out of there.

    I got a seat on the bus behind a wizened guy with a scraggly beard and a swarthy guy with a moustache discussing the best places to buy crack. Swarthy Moustache thought the best stuff was the yellow rock available in a nearby tavern washroom. Scraggly Beard nodded and considered this in silence for a while. Then he asked, “Do you want to fuck me?”

    “Hey man,” said Swarthy Moustache, “I don’t fuck nobody.” They rode in silence the rest of the trip.

  27. CJ, it has to do with the way the term hacker has transformed in connotation over the years from “an enthusiastic and skillful computer programmer or user” to “a cybercriminal”.

    Lots of open source software development is done by *hackers*, and they’re often working to save people’s privacy from big data and big government. And I would definitely consider Snowden to be a hacker given the sort of spycraft he had to use to leak the information he did.

    So I object to your generalizations :)

  28. So renfield what you’re saying is #notallhackers

  29. Anonymous are a bunch of computer nerds that aren’t that skilled at taking down public figures. I think a good movie would be were some anonymous dudes accidentally found something by shear accident and they were hunted down by a real hacker and he starts their lives. I can’t decide if it’s a slasher or an espionage movie.

  30. Hey remember when most movies on VHS were like $99 because they wanted only rental stores to buy them, and every once in a while a big one like Jurassic Park or something from Disney would be $20 for the common man to own? I remember being shocked this one was priced to own since it wasn’t a particularly big hit and nobody I know liked it. I guess they figured guys wanted to rewind Halle Berry’s topless scene over and over.

    Only other thing I can remember (besides the cringe-inducing 4th wall-breaking opening monologue, which Travolta did AGAIN at the beginning of Be Cool), was that the ending wasn’t particularly satisfying and didn’t really make sense, but the alternate one on the DVD also brought up it’s own share of problems and neither one was very good. The idea of a “shades of grey” anithero/villain like Travolta doing very bad things all in the name of good later caught on, mostly with dark TV stuff like 24, so I guess we have to give Swordfish a little bit of credit for being a pioneer in that field. Too bad the execution just wasn’t there.

  31. Matthew B: wtf??!!

  32. Never seen this one all the way through but I have one friend who used to rave about it and tried to send me home with the DVD numerous times. The only other film I remember him being so enthusiastic about was the Nic Cage Snake Eyes.

    @Felix. No, you are not.

  33. neal, in the early 80’s when I was about 10, I used to get excited when an ex-rental I wanted to buy on VHS from my local video store would come down in price. I waited about 6 months for RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK to go from $80(!) to $30(still !, considering I can get an Arrow Video Bluray from Amazon for the same price now). I bought it for my dad for fathers day that year and he was stoked.

    I worked in a Civic video store for a few years in the late 90’s, and my boss told me that the quality of the rental tapes were better and stronger than the sell-through ones, justifying the $100 price tag.

  34. Remember that period of like 2 months back in ’01 when everybody on the net (including myself probably) thought the opening monologue to this was the coolest thing in any modern action movie yet? Yeah I’m also glad we quickly got past that.

  35. I feel like your boss fed you some bullshit so you would buy through him lol

  36. If he was, then he never got that sale. I’ve mostly been a tight-arse when it comes to buying movies. I usually wait a few months till a new release drops in price, though I make exceptions for a JOHN WICK or a Cage DTV.

    Funny story about the video store I worked at. I was a customer for a few years prior and had noticed the owner never dropped the price on his ex-rentals. He would have something like CARLITOS WAY sitting on the shelf for several years at $20, collecting dust. So I wrote him a letter, explaining nicely how I thought he would make more money if he reduced his prices over time, allowing newer releases to be sold at a higher price when people were excited about them, not 4 years later when they’d moved on to something else.

    He called me the next day and offered me a job as store manager. I took it. And I took CARLITOS WAY for $6.

  37. I applied for a job at a video store once. They hired only women, so that didn’t work out.

  38. This is so cheesy, but I actually wanted my first job to be at my local Blockbuster, but by the time I would have done so it had closed.

    The staff that I liked as a teen had all moved on by then anyway, so it wouldn’t have been as fun as I imagined anyway.

  39. I applied and got a job at the largest video store in Oslo back in the 80’s, but found out before I started that it was run by the same mafia that controlled all the porn that was sold in Norway.

  40. Before Shoot starts up the joke machine, let me just say that all the porn came from Sweden.

  41. I’m not a huge fan of SWORDFISH but definitely enjoy it and watch it on occasion on purpose. I think part a lot of the entertainment value comes from looking at this movie as something different than Vern and others: as a big Joel Silver joke on Don Simpson (or Simpson/Bruckheimer, but I lean more on a purely Don dig). It’s an artificially slick take on a fairly rote tale, revved up and mockingly pretentious. If you find the Simpson/Bruckheimer backstory hilarious and are familiar with the tales of Simpson’s excesses this flick goes beyond traditional cheese and into delicious, delicious candy.

  42. Watched this last night (had been considering it since another of my favourite critics did a retrospective on it earlier this year). Hated it at the time, now it’s a mildly diverting half way point between my sincere love of 90s big studio action movies and the baffling awfulness of early 00s culture. The subplot with Jackman’s daughter doesn’t work and has no place in this film, but the case are good, and I was pleasantly surprised by how absurd and grand scale the action gets towards the end. Could have used this director for AGDTDH

    That opening scene is horrendous though. You start by talking about Hollywood shit, and the only film you mention is a 25 year old film you consider a masterpiece? Fuck you! It really disrupts the flow of the film when it’s omitted in its linear place. But of course, Tarrentino. The alternative ending includes a similar rant about THE MALTESE FALCON; it’s much better actually, but shows how much Woods was wallowing in QT’s leftovers

  43. It’s beautiful!

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