Blackhat (2015)

Blackhat (2015)
  • Time: 133 min
  • Genre: Action | Crime | Drama
  • Director: Michael Mann
  • Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Archie Kao, Wei Tang


Nick Hathaway, an extremely talented hacker who has gone astray, finds his way out of a 15 year prison sentence when parts of a computer code he once wrote during his youth appears in a malware that triggered a terrorist attack in factory in China. This opportunity will reunite him with an old friend but will also put him in the middle of a power game between the American and Chinese government as well as arch villain hacker whose identity he has to find if he wants to keep his freedom and his life.


  • Quickie Review:

    Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) is a convict imprisoned for cybercrimes. His expertise is called upon to help the American and Chinese authorities. In exchange for freedom Nick takes the offer to hunt down a cyber-terrorist before his final move. One word that perfectly describes Blackhat is “bland.” Every aspect of the movie including characters, story, villain, motive is just uninteresting. The film tries to be taken seriously, but the plot is ridiculous to begin with so it doesn’t deserve such treatment. In the end Blackhat although functional is simply boring.

    Full Review:

    I hate to be the negative Nancy (sorry if your name happens to be Nancy), but quite frankly there are very few redeemable things about Blackhat. I can say that Chris Hemsworth was fine in his role. I am sure a lot of people are only going to see this movie because of him and his fame of being Thor. Still Hemsworth is a good actor so he did the best he could with what he had. The very few action scenes that are there are shot well, and there is good amount of grit to them. That’s where all the positives end I am afraid.

    So apparently Hemsworth’s character is some brilliant hacker. Okay, well thank you for telling us that because no one would’ve figured that out from what was shown. The most complex “hacking” he does is send a keylogger malware through an e-mail. Congratulations Hathaway, you are as effective as a questionable spam mail that every man in the world has received causing them to at least once question their manhood. Then there is the unnecessary love story that only happens because she is the first woman Hathaway sees since prison. Then the motives of the villain are so non-sensical that when it is revealed three-quarters into the movie I facepalmed myself. The villain claims that his last cyber stunt will be the big hit but in the first five minutes of the movie he blows up a nuclear reactor. In this day and age that’s as big as it gets. So how about you don’t lead with a nuclear explosion as a practice run genius.

    The common thread here is that nothing about movie is believable: the characters, the love story, the villain. So how am I supposed to take the film seriously when everything is so unbelievable? I can’t get over the fact of how bored I was during the movie. The filmmakers clearly lack confidence when in the official synopsis they start listing all the cities that’s visited in the movie (check IMdB or the official website). At this point they could have made a movie called Thor Tours South-East Asia, I much rather see that film. Who wouldn’t want to know an Asguardian’s thoughts on Asian cuisine? So if it’s not clear already, skip this one at all cost.

  • For a large part of his career up until now, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth has been riding the successful road in the realm of Hollywood movies. After finding success in Marvel’s Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013) and critically acclaimed Rush (2013), it seemed as if there wasn’t a role Hemsworth couldn’t pull off that people didn’t enjoy. But in everyone’s success story there are always slips and mistakes along the way. This movie highlights one of Hemsworth’s errors. One of the more surprising things though is that it’s not just Hemsworth’s mistake either. There are a lot of mistakes that belong to several other professionals that have proven before they are better than this. Most notably, this belongs to director Michael Mann.

    Although not a mainstream director of popular movies, Michael Mann has produced a number of films that people recollect as being highly entertaining. The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Heat (1995) to name a couple are of his most well respected films he has directed. This however is a totally different problem. The story to this movie is about a cyber-hacker AKA a “Blackhat” working its way into certain country’s government systems and using whatever they can manipulate for personal gain. After first being sited when it activates a nuclear meltdown in China, Chinese Computer Security Agent Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) and his sister Chen Lien (Wei Tang) ask for Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), a convicted hacker and friend of Chen Dawai to help them figure out who’s behind the cyber-hacking. However, because Hathaway is a convicted felon, Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) and another guard comes along to make sure Hathaway doesn’t leave the project.

    As a story, the concept and premise is compelling. In an age where digital information is recorded and stored in private databases in a central processing unit, hacking is a contemporary issue that results in many people’s cyber issues related to either social media profiles, personal email accounts or leaked footage (that the movie companies can’t seem to handle yet). But aside from this, the execution isn’t cleaned up. Of the cast, only three actors will make any kind of impression on its audience and that belongs to Leehom Wang, Wei Tang and Viola Davis. The characters they portray at least have some existence of humanity in them and carry a bit of charm to their personality. Chris Hemsworth on the other hand is about as dry old provolone cheese with not one sarcastic statement sounding the least bit humorous. Sadly, this is the least of the film’s crimes because there’s more to discuss.

    The villain in this movie is unknown. His name isn’t mentioned once and trying to find the cast member name without a proper picture doesn’t help. His performance wasn’t worth much either. As for characters on an individual basis, from thread to thread it’s incredibly cliche and predictable. Does it even need to be said what’ll happen when a best friend meets his best friend’s sister? Adding to it is that these particular subplots weren’t needed. It didn’t develop the characters in any unique fashion. And with that, the result ends up being a 2-hour snooze fest of stuff viewers have already seen. These flaws are quite vivid when looking at the writer Morgan Davis Foehl, who’s prior positions belong to film productions as an assistant editor. That’s not a good sign and why didn’t Foehl edit this picture? Apparently the four editors to this film did barely anything.

    The only other minuscule plus to this movie is that there are shootouts and fights. However even they are not particularly entertaining because cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh couldn’t keep the camera still for hardly any scene he filmed. There are some scenes that involve no motion at all and Dryburgh still manages to have the camera shake. Why? Does it create realism? Kind of but it makes the movie feel more like a found footage genre movie than a cinematic traditional thriller. The music is another mixed bag. Harry Gregson-Williams worked with two other composers; Atticus Ross and Leopold Ross. However according to Williams almost none of his work was put in the movie. So for that I cannot say anything about him but for the Ross brothers (if that is their work), the music they produced isn’t the least bit inviting. Much the music consists of deep bass synths and dense percussion that don’t really appeal to anything that goes on through the movie. Williams’ music would probably been more appropriate considering his past work involves much more of a hybrid mix between synths and orchestra. Some much was wrong here.

    It has some ok action scenes, a few good performances and has an interesting premise that pertains to today’s culture but fails to be clever in any way in its execution. The story is badly written with cliche character threads, very slow pacing, a dull showing by Chris Hemsworth and unappealing music.

    Points Earned –> 4:10

  • Right upfront I have to say I’m a huge fan of Michael Mann. I can’t think of a director who makes better use of scenery than Mann. I became a fan of his after seeing Heat, which is probably the greatest heist movie ever made. The Insider was probably his most important film and then there’s Collateral and The Last of the Mohicans as well, two more amazing films. Sure he’s had missteps along the way (Miami Vice, Public Enemies) but I think he ranks as one of the nest directors working in Hollywood today. So when you hear Michael Mann is making a thriller about cyber-terrorists with Chris Hemsworth starring you get excited.

    Blackhat follows the story of a convicted computer hacker (Hemsworth) who must work with the FBI and Chinese Intelligence to chase down cyber-terrorists from Los Angeles, Chicago, Hong Kong and Jakarta. Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, John Ortiz and a bunch of Chinese actors you don’t know about, Blackhat is probably one of the worst movies to come out this year that fails to live up to it’s intriguing premise. The movie is pitched very much like a techno-thriller but comparing it to any of Tom Clancy’s works is a shame. The biggest problem with this movie is probably it’s lackluster script which fails to really make the movie a compelling and engaging experience. Mann’s direction is flawed to say the least, the shaky camera-work and poor composition make’s you feel like this movie was made by someone who couldn’t afford a decent camera.

    Chris Hemsworth who showed us his dramatic side in Ron Howard’s Rush gives a decent performance as hacker Nick Hathaway and Viola Davis does well in most of her screen-time but you are really let down by the poor pacing and bad cinematography among other things. Most of the film’s sub-plots seem unnecessary and actually serve as a distraction from the main story and at times the dialogue becomes laughable. The film has a decent amount of action but again the execution is inept.

    In conclusion, Blackhat ranks as one of Michael Mann’s worst directorial efforts which is quite disappointing considering the films he’s made over the years. Chris Hemsworth does well but the bland screenplay and terrible visuals really bring the movie down. All together Blackhat is a dull and tedious film, easily one of the worst ones of 2015 and a misfire for director Michael Mann.

    Final Score: 2.6/10

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  • ​Michael Mann’s globetrotting, cyber crime drama Blackhat culminates in a beautifully wrought set piece in Jakarta’s Papua Square, where convicted American cybercriminal Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) is at last face-to-face with the villainous Rat (Yorick van Wageningen) whose malware attacks have caused much consternation throughout the film. They shield themselves amidst the costumed bodies on parade, though none in the throng seem particularly alarmed at the sight of the towering Hemsworth brandishing a gun in plain sight.

    Though given a suspenseful prologue, the showdown itself is a quick and brutal affair. Rat himself proclaims his hands were made for typing, not killing, and his end is as whimpering as the one had by Live Free of Die Hard’s Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant). In the shadow of Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons’ silky criminals, Olyphant’s Gabriel may seem a boy amongst giants but, in retrospect, may actually be the franchise’s best villain. Bruce Willis’ John McClane was genuinely at a loss with how to deal with a man who could manipulate all the systems with a mere touch of a button, and Gabriel’s defeat was very much dictated by McClane having to live to die another day.

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