Michael Mann has greatness in him. I’ve seen it in past efforts like Collateral and the highly engaging thriller, Heat. Blackhat isn’t terrible like some reviewers will have you believe but it’s not something that will last passed this year, this month even, maybe. I think I enjoyed it most for the fact that as a January release, it’s damn entertaining. It’s as implausible as me saying I’m going to Mars tomorrow (I’ll send you a postcard). But ultimately I wasn’t expecting much. It’s the typical modus operandi that all cyber thrillers possess and certainly the same level of believability. None, there is none; not believable. I don’t want to damn it for being improbable; I would have to hate film as a whole if that were the case.
I turn to Mann films for their entertainment value. Say what you will about the kind of cameras he uses to get that as of late signature look to his films but he doesn’t make truly awful films. His strongest attribute (in my opinion) is his knack for filming high velocity action scenes. He appreciates authenticity; from the weaponry to proper room entry procedures, there’s always a sense of realism to the way he sets up and films action. Although this is true of Blackhat’s action scenes, they are probably the most forced aspect to the film overall. A movie about warring cyber hackers isn’t the most visually exciting thing to watch so I understand the need for action, to heighten the stakes but it just feels forced. And of course the leading man and computer expert is the handsomest man of 2014 (apparently) Chris Hemsworth. Is he shirtless at some point? Of course he is. The rest of the film he can’t seem to find the top buttons of his shirt. He just had to make the decision to show off his buff chest for the world to see. His sacrifice to stop terrorism I guess. This means that his handsomeness cannot be outperformed so the villain is of course some schlubby, Cheetos-eating asshole with an obvious grudge against the more attractive peers in his field. So you can imagine his hatred for Hemsworth’s character.
After an attack in China, answers are sought and blame must be appointed. Getting nowhere fast it is suggested that a certain man who originated the very code that attacked a Chinese nuclear plant be released from prison to assist in the investigation. Nicholas Hathaway has been released on a very short leash with explicit instructions to help catch a terrorist who shows no signs of stopping his maniacal ways. His biggest asset in finding this cyber terrorist is the element of surprise but this keyboard extremist is more clever than anyone anticipated. When Hathaway is discovered it becomes a high speed sprint to find this bastard and end his reign of computer-generated hooliganism. Hathaway knows in order to catch him he must operate beyond the leash he’s allowed and so by the end it seems everyone wants his head. His once teammates turned his pursuers and a terrorist at the other end, he has his work cut out for him. Who will win is more than a matter of a keystroke.
I liked this movie quite a bit. This weekend it certainly isn’t the worst choice (The Wedding Ringer, I’m looking at you.) but I can’t say it’s the best either. If you’ve seen American Sniper then definitely check Blackhat out but my money is on Bradley Cooper and Clint Eastwood this weekend. Blackhat doesn’t always make sense. It’s a bit of a mess at times but in the end I was entertained and the finale made it all worth it for me. Check your bullshit meter at the door and have a good time watching the good guys kill the bad guys and vice versa. If you can keep your expectations low as I did then you should find this to be a viable way to spend two hours. It’s January, this is Oscar material in that light.
Rated R For: violence and some language
Run Time: 133 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang, William Mapother
Directed By: Michael Mann
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3/ Acting: 3/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 3
OVERALL: 3.5 Nerdskulls
Check out the trailer below:
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