If it's crap ... We'll tell you
OK, seriously, who wouldn't want to watch THAT movie? A film that contains one of the best openings of all time is also one of the most forgotten and ill-remembered. Featuring an all star cast and inventive story, this was sure to be a movie that would be satisfying, both in terms of entertainment and aesthetics. Sadly, the movie remains dormant and dusty, just waiting to be reexamined by a new generation of film goers.
The 2001 crime thriller stars Hugh Jackman as a reformed computer hacker who isn't allowed to basically even think about, much less have access to a computer. His wife divorced him and refuses to let him see his daughter following his conviction. He's suddenly confronted by Halle Berry's character, who's working for a shadowy criminal figure played by John Travolta. Jackman is recruited by Travolta to help him create a "worm" that will aid his quest to steal $9.5 billion.
SPOILER: Travolta reveals himself to be a member of a deep government op called "Black Cell", which has existed since the 50s. Hoover created the group to perform retaliatory terrorist attacks against nations/groups. After the heist ensues, Travolta and his subordinates are seemingly killed by Jackman's character. However, they revealed to have escaped along with the $9.5 billion.
In the hands of another director, this could have been a fantastic action thriller that could have grossed lots of money. Instead, it was helmed by Dominic Sena. Never heard of him? That's OK, he's only responsible for mediocre affair like "Whiteout" and "Gone in 60 Seconds", along with one of cinema's most recent crap piles, "Season of the Witch". Someone of the mold of a Ridley Scott, Hell, maybe even his brother Tony, it would have been much more visually interesting and the action set-pieces would have been second to none.
As far as the acting goes, it's good, just nothing special. Travolta's pretty much phoning in the performance of a funny, unstable criminal who cares nothing of the consequences of his actions, as the final result justifies any form of collateral damage. Personally, I liked and sympathized with his character, much like I did with Ed Harris in "The Rock". The only thing Halle Berry has to offer at all is her topless self, which is as pointless as it is...no, it's just pointless; I'll leave it at that. Don Cheadle plays an FBI agent and is terrific as usual. It begs the question, why was he in this? Jackman plays the typical every-man pretty typical, so not much to say there.
The film was released June 2001, just months before terrorists became a lot more than matinee affair. If this movie could have came out just a little bit later, either late 2001 or sometime in 2002, it would have had a bigger impact and more of a contemporary vibe to it. As I said earlier, one of the Scotts could have made the film say a lot more about terrorism and the costs of freedom, along with how far retaliation with violence can or will go. What could have been a fascinating movie is restricted to a a great opening scene. Who knows, maybe someday we could get a meaningful remake...