Blackhat – Movie Review

In Blackhat, Chris Hemsworth plays Nick Hathaway. Hathaway is a brilliant hacker, who is currently serving a 15-year sentence for his crimes. After a nuclear meltdown in China, it is discovered by Chen Lien (Wang Leehom) that the accident was caused by a devious hacker. A hacker who gained backdoor access to the plant’s computer systems and prevented the cooling fans from operating correctly.

Release Date: January 16, 2015
Rated R (Violence)
Runtime: 133 minutes
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wang Leehom, Tang Wei

Chinese authorities ask Chen Lien to team up with FBI agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) and FBI Agent Jessup (Holt McCallany). In a show of international help, their mission to track down the mysterious hacker. Lien discovers that the hacker used code developed by Lien and his college roommate, Hathaway. Convinced that he is the only person capable of finding the hacker, Hathaway is released into the custody of the FBI.

blackhat-movie-imageBlackhat contains all of the basic elements of an action thriller: the mysterious villain with aspirations of global disaster; two former enemies working together to vanquish a common threat; a misunderstood genius who is the world’s only hope; a genius with skills in computer programming, hand-to-hand combat and firearms training and the sexy sister (Tang Wei) who not only falls in love with the genius but also teaches him to be human.

Unfortunately, Writer/Director Michael Mann is unable to make a compelling movie about the world of computer hacking. Mann tries hard to making hacking interesting a dramatic with our heroes sitting at a computer, punching keys with force and authority; highlighting meaningless garbage on the screen and the required frustrated clearing of the desk. But clearing, the action is quite limited, so you have to have your programmers forced into action elements. I should also mention that they are nuclear physicists, able to enter a highly dangerous, radiation flooding control run. Blackhat requires audience to suspend disbelief to absurd levels.

One thing you don’t often see in American movies is realistic portrayals of Asians. Asians are portrayed as real people: good, bad or otherwise. It was fantastic to see a group of Asian thugs storm into a room and none of them knew martial arts. They had badass guns.

blackhat-movie-imageBlackhat also suffers from a serious filmmaking problem. The movie was shot in the United States, China, and Jakarta. Footage shot in the United States looks like your average movie, on par with other films. Footage shot in China and Jakarta appears to have been shot differently, probably digital. Every scene appears to have a different quality like it was shot with video cameras. The change in quality was noticeable to everyone.

Unable to effectively make computer hacking exciting, Blackhat is a mediocre, if not boring, action movie that will sit on the shelf with the hundreds of other action films produced every year.