Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Heat) returns to the directors chair after a six year absence from big budget feature films to bring us Blackhat, a cyber thriller starring Chris Hemsworth as the criminal hacker tapped to save the world. Mann has a knack for taking current events topic and turning them into an award worthy feature, but this far-fetched sloppy attempt at depicting cyber crime and hacking in the present day is not a film that will stand up with Mann’s best. A film that gets lost in its own convoluted story and never finds it’s way out.
A Chinese nuclear power plant is attacked by a cyber terrorist who uses his skills to infiltrate the computer system and cause a near-meltdown which threatens the lives of thousands of citizens. Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) is MIT graduate and current Chinese military specializing in computer crime who is assigned to track down the attacker. A similar attack is reported on US soil triggering the FBI cyber crimes division to be called into action. Let by Carol Barrett (Viola Davis), this task force reluctantly agrees to work with the Chinese and find the person responsible for these crimes. Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) is the world’s greatest computer hacker who also doubles as the Mighty Thor, protecting Asgard against the forces of…*ahem*…sorry. Where was I? Oh yes, the world’s greatest hacker, yes yes, who is imprisoned for his cyber crimes against the banking world and just so happens to be the former roommate of Chen. Having convinced the FBI that the team needs Hathaway, Chen is able to have his college friend released from prison to assist in the hunt of the “blackhat.”
Also joining the team is Lien Chen (Wei Tang), Chen’s sister, who apparently is an engineer with knowledge necessary to help the team who also doubles as the love interest for Hathaway. From there the film goes on a wild chase against time thru the streets of Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Jakarta, as the team tries to solve the mystery of who is responsible for the attacks. As the pieces begin to fall into place, Hathaway realizes that something bigger than they had imagined is on the horizon. The brilliant hacker may have finally met his match and he must defy the odds to break the code before time runs out.
Blackhat isn’t the type of misstep that you would expect from a seasoned director as Mann. The screenplay by Morgan Davis Foehl is dull and completely disregards logic. The cinematography of Stuart Dryburgh is very reminiscent of previous Mann successes and is the one bright spot of the production. From shaky camera to close up, the camera work is well done. I wish I could say the same for the acting. Chris Hemsworth is all wrong for the lead. The actor is not believable as an MIT genius and the director does not put the Aussie in any sort of position to succeed in winning over the audience. The real shame is that actress Viola Davis had to endure this fiasco. Davis tries to make the best of a bad situation and provides an adequate performance. The remaining members of the cast are as awful at delivering the lines as the script presented to them. If it wasn’t for the action set pieces in this film, there would be little to talk about.
Overall, is Blackhat worth a view this weekend? Perhaps, but don’t sets your expectations too high. This is a film with more holes than conclusions, but it’s mildly entertaining. Michael Mann’s catalog is filled with more intriguing pieces than Blackhat, this film had potential, but it didn’t quite hit the mark.
2 out of 5
After Credit Scene?