Release Date: Jan. 16, 2015
Running Time: 135 minutes
Has director Michael Mann only just discovered the Internet? However relevant Blackhat may seem in the wake of the recent Sony Pictures hack attack, Mann wants us to believe with his dial-up slow cyberthriller that he’s the first person to realize that the Internet can be a very dangerous place. Meanwhile, anyone sitting through Blackhat may have flashbacks to Sneakers, The Net, Hackers, Swordfish, and Firewall. Or, more than likely, will have had their own issues with Internet viruses and online identity theft. So it’s laughable on Mann’s part that with Blackhat he acts that like we don’t know our computers to vulnerable to attack 24/7. How stale is Blackhat? It opens with Mann taking us inside the brains and guts of a malware-infected computer, a shot that could easily have been in WarGames. Mann’s cautionary tale isn’t just two decades too late—it’s a tedious cat-and-mouse game that spans the globe without covering any new ground. Thor’s Chris Hemsworth is asked to save the day again as a convicted hacker who’s sprung from jail to work with U.S. and Chinese law enforcement agents to capture the cyberterrorist behind a nuclear plant meltdown in China. The real mystery to solve in Blackhat isn’t the cyberterrorist’s identity but his motives. Is he driven by money or malice? It doesn’t matter. Mann gets so caught up in the technology of today that he neglects to bring much of a human touch to Blackhat. This, though, has little to do with his trademark glossy photography, moody lighting, and atmospheric soundtrack, which made the likes of Thief, Manhunter, and Collateral so distinctive. If Blackhat is as cold and impersonal as the film version of Miami Vice, it’s because Mann doesn’t care about his characters. They exist only to move Blackhat along. Our heroes are as simple and anonymous as the code they try to crack is as complex and treacherous. When Mann gets tired of his supporting cast, he makes the fatal decision of requiring Hemsworth to carry Blackhat on his broad shoulders. Sounding like Sylvester Stallone with a head cold, Hemsworth takes Blackhat so seriously that he tones down his inherent charm to the point that he barely shows any interest in engaging with the enemy. Mann also does Hemsworth a disservice by staging the occasional fight and shootout with such a clumsy hand. Actually, if you told me Mann shot all the action on his cell phone, I wouldn’t be amazed given how annoyingly tight and shaky it all looks. By offering a surprisingly low-tech climax, one that attempts to personalize the proceedings, Mann wants to fool us into thinking he’s concerned with what makes a man tick in Blackhat. He’s not. He’s preoccupied with how the technology we use daily can so easily be turned against us. Without bringing the user into the equation, Mann’s Blackhat boasts as much of a soul as the device you are using to read this review.
Aired: Jan. 15, 2015
Web site: http://blackhat.legendary.com/