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Blackhat - Movie Review

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Blackhat - Movie Review


2 stars

Michael Mann’s stylistic exercise continues with yet another bloodless affair. Blackhat, following the disappointment of Public Enemies and Miami Vice, continues the downward trajectory of an above-average director - responsible for The Insider and Heat - who seems to be settling for “acceptable” entertainment without the former smarts of his biggest and best films. The flashy neon splashes are back, the visual tip of the hat pronouncing subtext is back, too. Gone, though, is the excitement. Blackhat is, to be blunt, dull.

By now, one would think Hollywood could nail the whole cyberthriller genre. From Sneakers to Hackers and beyond, the whole studio system just sucks at developing the human element in these stories. It’s as if they are light years away from their subjects and what really happens. Hollywood knows their cyber soundtracks often outperform the movie. Blame the lack of real human connections in all the invisible action because, unfortunately, Blackhat is guilty of the much of the same inanity that has come before.

Chris Hemsworth stars as ace criminal hacker Hathaway. As the story opens, Hathaway is released from jail in order to help former MIT classmate Chen (Wang Leehom) find the mysterious hacker responsible for the near fatal meltdown at a nuclear power facility. They call him “Blackhat” but you really won’t care. FBI agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) disapproves of Hathaway’s involvement but, other than frowning at his comments and antics like a disapproving mother, she can do little to stop him from being involved in the hunt. He is the man of the hour. The well-seasoned audience member knows what to expect from the set-up. Let the cat-and-mouse chase begin!

Written by Morgan Davis Foehl and Mann after spending time in Washington learning the ins and outs of cyberintrusion, the globe-hopping trek sees Hathaway traveling from Chicago and Los Angeles to Hong Kong and Jakarta – with a side journey to Malaysia - in the search for “Blackhat”. He even falls for Chen’s sister, Lien (Tang Wei) and leaves no corner of her lithe body left unsearched. Don’t worry, though. You’ll buy the expected romance because – in hours of urgency – Mann can really sell male and female hot-blooded affections. Of course, he doesn’t answer whatever questions you might have along the way. (You’ll forget them after the movie ends anyway.) This is that disposable.

One of the main issues of complaint with Blackhat is just how weak and uninsightful it is. The action and commentary is entirely forgettable. Very little of the shots – outside of some fancy effects as a computer code snakes its way into chaos and Mann's pinkish neon lighting – resonates throughout its two hours. The problem is that Mann overkills the visual thoughtfulness but gives us little reward when it comes to story so the imbalance is distracting.  Unfortunately, Mann’s cyberthriller silliness tends to write itself.

While the film may have been written about three years ago, the whole hacking of Sony situation will make you see double. Blackhat is a timely affair. I won’t rob it of being of the times. There are no international barriers with cybercrimes. That’s the big message. We are an interconnected world at risk of losing everything we value with each new hacker attack. No government cyberdefense official – no matter their training – will protect us from the hacking of our collective future. We simply aren’t prepared for this kind of battle and that in itself is terrifying. If only Blackhat had managed to effectively tapped into this fear…

Someday someone will get this genre right…but it won’t be Hollywood. 

Blackhat - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: R for violence and some language.
133 mins
: Michael Mann
Writer: Morgan Davis Foehl
Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang
: Action | Crime | Drama
We are no longer in control
Memorable Movie Quote: "This isn't about money. This isn't about politics. I can target anyone, anything, anywhere."
Universal Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
January 16, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available.
Synopsis: Set within the world of global cybercrime, Legendary's Blackhat follows a furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners as they hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta.

No details available.

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