Movie Review
Blackhat poster
By Craig Younkin     Published January 18, 2015
US Release: January 16, 2015

Directed by: Michael Mann
Starring: Viola Davis , Chris Hemsworth


Domestic Box Office: $7,713,000
Mann and his co-screenwriter hardly seem interested in establishing any of the terror that might feel like.
You have the great Michael Mann (“Heat," “Collateral," “The Insider”), Thor, and a very topical subject in computer hacking, how the hell can you screw up “Blackhat”? What should have been the January’s most promising thriller is actually an overlong, messy, and unbelievably boring movie that hardly ever manages to connect on any level.

Thor, who I’m now going to start referring to in the common name of Chris Hemsworth, plays a hacker named Hathaway who has been imprisoned for cyber-robbery. But when another hacker manages to blow up a Chinese nuclear power plant by sneaking a code, apparently created by Hathaway while he was at M.I.T., into their system, the lead investigator for the Chinese (Leehorn Wang), who coincidentally was Hathaway’s roommate in college, gets him sprung from prison in order to help.

Both director and actor get points for style, stupidity of it all be damned. Hathaway isn’t any shlubby, socks and sandals wearing basement dwelling hacker or some teenager who lives in his parent’s attic. He could easily pass for a hacker on Mann’s Miami Vice TV series, and he somehow learned how to take out five guys in a fight, hold his own in a gun battle, and expertly prepare for going into a final showdown with guys ready to kill. You could say Hemsworth seems miscast for this role, but I think you would be wrong. The role is what seems miscast for the role, you don’t believe even a fraction of it.

How lost does “Blackhat” continue to get? For a movie about a hacker holding the world at his mercy, Mann and his co-screenwriter Morgan Davis Foehl hardly even seem interested in establishing any of the terror that might feel like. Their villains take on more of a gun-wielding physical form, which is good for a few gun battles (which Mann excels at, again, here by the way) but makes for slow-going as the characters intently try to decipher things on their computer screens/phones or chase clues in what feels like an endless globe-hop around the world, or when Mann takes us inside the terminal of the computer as codes are being sent. I can’t tell you how many times I felt like the scenery behind these people held more interest.

There’s a subplot stuffed in here centering on a romance between Hathaway and the sister (Wei Tang) of the investigator. It really only seems to be there for the sex appeal and to up the stakes later, otherwise it’s guaranteed spark-free. Viola Davis also shows up as an F.B.I. agent working with the Chinese and she’s so good that she can even find some merit within this horrible screenplay. The rest is just a huge disconnect.
Craig's Grade: C-
Craig's Overall Grading: 340 graded movies
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