One hat, two hat red hat, Blackhat….. Chris Hemsworth leads the cast as convicted white collar hacker Nicholas Hathaway enlisted by the FBI and the Chinese Intelligence to take down a globe-spanning network of criminals threatening the safety of the world’s economy and nuclear energy in Blackhat.
Director Michael Mann (Heat, Public Enemies) gets on the cyber-hacking bandwagon nearly twenty years too late unfortunately, but the movie does have some great action moments if you can start to follow the logic of the thing but at times the techno babble just off as useless and warranted.
Tang Wei (Lust, Caution) delivers a slightly better performance than the lead as Lien Chen, partner to the furloughed Hathaway, though she could have easily been given more to do as a female leading lady by Mann or the story architects.
Blackhat is a named after a hacker term for someone who can decode high level security (Steve Urkel). How that translates to the screen is often “udbhwudbudbsudbsudb” and at times this is where the movie dictates its own very slow pace. Close-up shots of USB flash drives, 1’s and 0s scrolling across the screen a la The Matrix all look cool — for a second — but this sets the tone as being a bore from the intro to ending.
The movie opens on one computer terminal, follows the signal down to the Tron-like circuit board and into a CPU.
Falling asleep yet? Because I nearly put my self in a coma watching this mess.
Have you ever been so mad that you were calm? This happened to me the night I saw this “gem”, I figured that at least the intro would be super cool considering it’s a hacker film we get a glimpse of this virus being sent from one side of the world to a Chinese power plant to initiate a meltdown though the “magic” of the internet. While this could have been shot or visualized better, I do get the point overall it felt absolutely pointless.
Later on in the film, I would get the requisite shots fired and explosions along with a Chinese food restaurant hand-to-hand fight scene that I’ve come to expect while enjoying my popcorn, made me hungrier actually.
Perhaps I’m a bit heavy handed describing the pace of the first two acts, but the movie did have some redeeming qualities.
Hathaway is just your typical Patrick Swayze looking, god-like hacker in prison that has his MIT roommate Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) enlist him to find the shadow network that is affecting stock markets. The reason why is that they made the code together at the revered Cambridge institution and need to find their way around it. The mission takes them across the world to see who is profiting and who is dying along the way.
While watching people dial in to proxy servers via a terminal command prompt to me is as thrilling as watching paint dry, the FBI agents on the case, including Viola Davis (Prisoners, Future Oprah in Biopic and the upcoming Suicide Squad as Amanda Waller) and Holt McCallany (Fight Club, Gangster Squad, The Losers) keep up the good cop / bad cop action and move the story along as Hemsworth’s federal guardians. Davis calls out a sketchy stockbroker withholding information in a particularly Amanda Waller-esque blackmail.
We are used to Thor’s Norse speak, but the Australian affects a street tough Chicago accent in Blackhat. Mann even throws himself a shout-out to Heat which in a way kinda reminded me of that one time I actually liked my own Facebook post.
In summary, if Blackhat were to hang itself on the coat rack of logic, there are plenty of holes and lots of places where the connections are not made from story to motivation. On the plus side, when we do get some action it comes quickly, surprisingly and with consequences.
But Sorry, Thor, I wanted to watch you tap into some Cyber Roadhouse Voodoo but what you achieved was a Voo-Don’t and it was hard to feel like I cared how you progressed in this film honestly. Oh and Hollywood? You must have so many checklists these days. It might be time to drop the clipboard and let people take some risks, we all know what happened with the not so Amazing Spider-man 2: Rhino Get’s His Groove back .
So yeah there’s not much to say in terms of redeemable factors with this film instead of coming out it warm and fuzzy I left feeling cold…. Don’t want to feel cold your self? Try Netflix. You’ll still be cold, but you’ll be watching Netflix at least I recommend John Dies At The End…. Cheers.