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They bomb a church, we bomb ten. They hijack a plane, we take out an airport. They execute American tourists, we tactically nuke an entire city. Our job is to make terrorism so horrific that it becomes unthinkable to attack Americans.
~ Gabriel Shear, explaining his "mission"

Gabriel Shear is the main antagonist of the 2001 film Swordfish.

He was portrayed by John Travolta, who also portrays Vic Deakins in Broken Arrow, Castor Troy in Face/Off, Howard Saint in The Punisher, Billy Nolan in Carrie, Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, Terl in Battlefield EarthEmil Kovač in Killing Season and Ryder in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3.


Gabriel is a wealthy terrorist, mob boss and hacker. In Texas, Gabriel shows his girlfriend Ginger for her golfing skills & recruits Stanley for his hacking skills. Gabriel's men assassinated Tovalds an European hacker who fails for Gabriel. Gabriel calls Stanley for an important mission. In L.A Gabriel tells Stanley to hack to U.S government & money for his own life. In Gabriel's TVR Tuscan Gabriel tells about Stanley's mission but interrupted by hitmen in SUVs but Gabriel fires a FN minigun at the SUVs & goes for Stanley's hacking assignment. At Gabriel's house he offers Stanley $10 million to write a worm that steals money from a secret government slush fund to the order of $9.5 billion. Gabriel reveals to Stanley that he works for an organization called the Black Cell that was started by Edgar Hoover in the 1950s, which is responsible for retaliatory attacks against terrorists who have attacked Americans. It is currently headed by Senator Reisman Sam Shepard, who discovers that the FBI has caught onto Gabriel and attempts to pull the plug. After Gabriel refuses to terminate his plans, Reisman attempts to have Gabriel killed, which fails. Gabriel tracks the Senator down while he is fly fishing in Oregon and kills him.

Gabriel proceeds with his plan and raids the local branch of the WORLDBANC. He takes hostages, puts explosives on them and deploys Stanley's worm. After stealing the $9.5 billion he boards the hostages and his crew on a bus out of the bank. Gabriel demands a plane at the local airport (a hostage negotiation cliché) but it was a diversion. An aircrane swoops down, lifts the bus and releases it on the rooftop of a skyscraper. From the rooftop, Gabriel seemingly departs with his team in a helicopter, which Stanley shoots down with a propelled grenade. At the morgue, Stanley and Agent Roberts learn that the body recovered from the helicopter is that of a former Mossad agent named Gabriel Shear, revealing that the "true" Gabriel Shear is still alive.

The end of the film shows Ginger and Gabriel in Monte Carlo transferring the $9.5 billion into other accounts. The final scene shows a yacht being destroyed while Ginger and Gabriel look on in a smaller boat while a news anchor voice narrates that a suspected terrorist died on that yacht, the third such successful counter-terrorism operation in as many weeks.


  • The original screenplay draft had a very different take on the Gabriel Shear character. He was first written as a mercenary whose plan for the stolen DEA funds had him joining forces with military and intelligence figures and planning to destroy corrupt politicians, and had several lengthy monologues in which U.S. Agents listened to him and then joined his crusade on the spot. While the funding and covert war angle was maintained, Writer Skip Woods later remade Gabriel Shear into a patriotic agent who seeks to destroy world terrorists and who kills the Senator, and his aide, for trying to kill him, and stop his plans.
  • John Travolta turned down the part of Gabriel a total of six times. He changed his mind when he heard director Dominic Sena's take on it.
  • The car that Gabriel drives is an English-made TVR Tuscan with a British number plate. The car was rarely sold in the United States.
  • John Travolta, like his character, loves cigars. His favorite brands are Davidoffs, Dunhills, and Montecristos.
  • John Travolta believes that Gabriel is "A man who believes bad things have to be done for the greater good."
  • Vinnie Jones was going to do a stunt, but John Travolta stopped him, and a stuntman did it instead. The wire broke, and the stuntman fell sixty to seventy feet onto a concrete floor, breaking his spine.



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