Blackhat – 2 out of 5
Hollywood has an interesting relationship with hacking. At first, it was kinda adorable how screenwriters tried to forcefully bring in this budding culture into the world of movies and now they are so out of their depth that they think computers can literally do anything with the most experienced hacker—who, also according to screenwriters, is usually the most eccentric person with a love of caffeinated beverages and possibly a love of electronic dance music. In reality, hacking usually amounts to your Facebook page or email getting invaded and all your friends receive messages about getting a bigger penis or something—of course, there are times when Anonymous gets really ambitious and outs a bunch of people who use a website dedicated to cheating on your spouse. I could spout for hours about the ethical repercussions of these actions, the reality of a group of people declaring they are the ones to police the morality of complete strangers or how it’s unfair they aren’t targeting student loan or credit card companies and wiping out all our debt but, instead, I’ll talk about a hacking movie called Blackhat!
After a hacker causes a meltdown at a nuclear power plant in Chai Wan, Hong Kong, a military officer in the cyber crimes division; Captain Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang), is charged with finding out who caused the destruction. He learns the hack occurred thanks to a Remote Access Tool (aka RAT). The big problem is that the RAT was created by him and his college roommate Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth)—who is currently serving time for an unrelated hacking crime. Lein seeks the help of the FBI and is allowed to get the service of Hathaway. Together, and also with the help of his network engineer sister (Wei Tang), they seek to find the person behind the terrorist attack.
|Explosions aren't a bad thing for nuclear power plants, are they?|
|Hemsworth, he wears his sunglasses at night.|
Not Shown: Night.
Cyber crime thrillers can be a coin toss on whether they’re going to be good or not. If you have a script that clearly doesn’t understand what computers can do, it can come off silly. If you have a script that understands TOO well what computers can do, it can be boring—who wants to see a thriller that’s all about some dudes sitting in a dark room, staring at a glowing computer screen and typing? However, when you have the Adonis that is the man who played Thor and the director that gave us the epic crime thriller Heat, how can you lose? Well, pretty easily, I guess.
|The look of "really?" after watching this film.|
From an acting standpoint, Blackhat is a decent film. The cast is never the problem because Wang (yes, laugh it up, 14 year old boys who stumbled upon this blog), Hemsworth, Tang and even the addition of Viola Davis as an FBI agent are all doing their jobs as well enough as they can. The problem that came from this movie comes in the form of action that never feels satisfying and feels more gratuitous due to the slow nature of the narrative, visuals that are extremely unappealing and almost convey a sense that director Michael Mann just didn’t care, and an overwhelmingly boring story.
|She better hurry this dinner meeting up, I think she has another one where|
she talks about getting some sort of suicide squad together.
Blackhat could have been great but the entire movie feels like it is just going through the motions at its best or is completely disinterested in the final product at its worse. Slowly the film trudges through its plot and story with no real sense of urgency that is shown in the trailer and then, as if to try and keep you interested and not turning off your DVD, it throws in some spectacularly uninteresting action sequences. These scenes are so mundane and mediocre that they figuratively come off like Michael Mann just walking in front of the camera and shrugging his shoulders.
|She blew up her car just to get in the arms of Hemsworth...which isn't that crazy|
because I'm pretty sure I'd do that, too.
There really is nothing special going on with Blackhat but, overall, it isn’t too terrible. Sure, it’s boring and it is nothing compared to the other work that Mann has done (I can’t emphasis enough how uninspired the visuals were) but the characters were kinda interesting (although none were developed very much) and the performances aren’t terrible (they’re not incredible either, though). For a movie about hacking and hackers, the film feels a little more grounded than some other features Hollywood has spat out and there’s no cliché scene where Hemsworth furiously types at a keyboard and says things like, “I’m in” and “I’m going to reroute the encryptions” (so, if you’re playing Hacker Movie Bingo, you didn’t get those squares) and this presentation is a little refreshing. Ultimately, however, this approach shows why we really need those off-the-wall hacker elements to movies because the end product to this film is just boredom.
|It's a crime that this man's facial hair was not the entire focus of the film.|