"Swordfish" -- John Travolta's latest vehicle for testosterone addicts -- offers everything you'd expect in an action flick.
From top to bottom, it's red-meat rich with take-your-breath-away explosions, flashy chases, sexy women and a script as taut and tough as gristle-steak.
The story line gets mired in confusion from time to time, and it's difficult to distinguish the bad guys from the good. But none of that is relevant because the visual awe is what the movie cares about. The brain will meekly follow the eye.
Travolta, as Gabriel Shear, plays the smooth-talking, take-no-prisoners chief of a secret anti-terrorist group of patriots. The back-story for the group is so silly it's not worth repeating here.
Just remember that Gabriel is planning a high-tech caper that involves hacking into a bank's computer files, all in the name of preserving America's liberties.
The job requires the skills of the world's best-known computer geek, Stanley Jobson (Hugh Jackman), so Gabriel dispatches his ain't-I-sexy-in-the-red-dress assistant Ginger to recruit him.
Fresh from a two-year spin in a federal prison, Stanley resists temptation and a ton of money at first, then agrees to join Gabriel's team in exchange for even more dough and a chance to free his daughter (Camryn Grimes) from the clutches of a mother-gone-to-seed.
Don Cheadle plays the FBI agent who stumbles onto the nest and tries to beak all the eggs, and eggheads.
The story zips along to a not-all-that-surprising conclusion, but its punctuated routinely with eye-startling scenes, including a gratuitous shot of Halle Berry's bared breasts, perhaps one of the most expensive three seconds of footage in film history.
Press reports suggest producers paid the actress as much as $1 million extra to take off her top, but it adds nothing to the film.
The money shots include the opening sequence explosion -- a slow-motion, 360-degree pan of mayhem, blood and guts -- and an escape sequence in which a bus is snatched by helicopter from a city street.
Travolta turns in a believable performance as a super-svelte antihero, despite an ever-widening girth and face.
At least he's got a box office hit on his hands, and that is welcome news for Travolta fans who have had to labor through the star's most recent previous offerings. Fortunately for them, "Swordfish" is light-years away from Travolta's "Battlefield Earth" and "Lucky Numbers."
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