My Take – Chris Hemsworth has had a pretty much successful route until now, After finding success in Marvel’s Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013) and critically acclaimed films like Rush (2013) & The Cabin in the Woods (2012), he was probably the best thing about the dreadful Snow White and the Huntsman (2012), it seemed as if there wasn’t a role Hemsworth couldn’t pull off that people wont enjoy. While Michael Mann has directed a number of films that people recollect as being highly entertaining. The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Collateral (2004) and Heat (1995) are some of the awesome films I can think of spontaneously. A combination of this two for a cyber thriller seemed like a match made in heaven! Still at times, some collaborations are destined to fail, as in everyone’s success story there are always slips along the way. This film is just the perfect example! The story follows a cyber-hacker AKA a “Blackhat” working its way into certain country’s government systems and using whatever they can manipulate for personal gain. When a hacker activates a nuclear meltdown in China. A team is assembled to investigate the attack, lead Chinese IT agent Chen Dawei (Wang LeeHom), who realizes early on that part of the code used to break into the Chai Wan nuclear plant was that written by him and a former MIT classmate, Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), back in their campus days.
Besides forming an alliance with the FBI, led by agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis), Dawei makes a request to the U.S. Department of Justice to have Nicholas, now serving time at a federal penitentiary for breaking into some of the country’s financial institutions, to be released from prison. It takes one to beat one, but besides Hathaway, Dawei also enlists the assistance of his sister, Chen Lien (Tang Wei), who also happens to be a computer expert. Following a template of a procedural, their investigation will lead them from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Malaysia and finally to Indonesia, though most of the time is spent in the former two locations. As a story, the concept and premise is compelling. In an age where digital information is recorded and stored in private databases in a central processing unit, hacking is a contemporary issue that results in many people’s cyber issues related to either social media profiles, personal email accounts or leaked footage. But aside from this, the execution isn’t cleaned up. In the first half, the movie raises a few questions and sets up some mysteries. I actually liked that, but only because I wanted to see the puzzles solved creatively and unexpectedly. But when the so called “twist” is revealed, the only reaction I could give is ‘meh’. Apparently the hacking shown in the movie is quite legit, but as I speak for myself, I am not an IT expert & frankly don’t care about the blue lights CGI, I rather watch the TRON movies again to see what happens inside a computer. Chris Hemsworth and Voila Davis are so much MORE than the crappy roles they were given for this film. He is is left with a role that is neither likable, nor interesting! Frankly with his physical appearance its hard to believe he is an IT expert. Leehom Wang & Wei Tang are likeable. The villain in this movie is unknown. His name isn’t mentioned once and trying to find the cast member name without a proper picture doesn’t help. His performance wasn’t worth much either. As for characters on an individual basis, from thread to thread it’s incredibly cliche and predictable. Does it even need to be said what will happen when a best friend meets his best friend’s sister? Adding to it is that these particular subplots weren’t needed.
It didn’t develop the characters in any unique fashion. And with that, the result ends up being a 2-hour snooze fest of stuff viewers have already seen. Director Mann’s choice to shoot in the same over-exposed, sometimes low- resolution, mode as ‘Collateral’ and ‘Miami Vice’ is finally frustrating. The only other minuscule plus to this movie is that there are shootouts and fights. However even they are not particularly entertaining because cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh couldn’t keep the camera still for hardly any scene he filmed. There are some scenes that involve no motion at all and Dryburgh still manages to have the camera shake. Why? Does it create realism? Kind of but it makes the movie feel more like a found footage genre movie than a cinematic traditional thriller. On the whole despite the title and tech-heavy premise of super-intelligent computer hacking espionage, “Blackhat” leaves so many holes in its characters, their motives, and the cyber warfare itself that it routinely borders on utter incoherence. But in everyone’s success story there This movie highlights one of Hemsworth’s errors. One of the more surprising things though is that it’s not just Hemsworth’s mistake either. There are a lot of mistakes that belong to several other professionals that have proved before they are better than this. Most notably, the failure of this very slow and more often than not, boring pot boiler belongs to director Michael Mann.
Director – Michael Mann
Rated – R
Run Time – 133 minutes