REVIEW: Blackhat

7 03 2015

For a movie that features hackers who can access some scarily far reaches of the world’s computing system, in a time where cyberterrorists quite literally reached inside the American network and restricted our freedom of speech, the stakes in Michael Mann’s “Blackhat” feel remarkably low.  These unknown villains do not seem threatening so much as annoying, as if they were Clippy on Microsoft Word.

Some serialized dramas on basic cable networks possess more urgency in storytelling.  So the moral of the story is never send the year’s champion of World’s Sexiest Man to do Mariska Hargitay’s job, perhaps?

Hemsworth stars as Hathaway, the now-imprisoned programmer who served as the lead architect on the code that wreaks havoc on nuclear reactors and stock markets across the world.  (In spite of this brilliance, Hathaway still cannot manage to figure out how to button the top four buttons on his shirt.)  Since Mann sets the film on such a low simmer, it seems only fitting that their criminal adversary only seeks to hijack computers for the sake of making a quick buck off the manipulation of global trade.

To make matters worse, enduring “Blackhat” also involves tolerating Mann’s grimy, grainy digital aesthetic.  The movie looks like a crappy HDTV demo from a flat-screen at Sam’s Club, circa 2007.  It has no pretense of imitating the look of film stock (even if this sounds arcane and technical, this difference is obvious).  Not to mention, the camera feels about as loose as the buttons on Hemsworth’s wardrobe, and the entire thing looks cheaply re-lit in post-production.

Mann’s visuals are in service of a script from Morgan Davis Foehl, a writer getting his first screenplay credit.  His writing does not highlight relevant issues surrounding cybersecurity nor does it raise any intriguing ethical questions, a real bummer considering what just happened surrounding the release of “The Interview.”  In fact, the only question I left “Blackhat” asking was whether I found it tougher to follow the plot … or to care about what happened altogether?  C2stars



2 responses

9 03 2015
Dan O.

It’s a very silly movie. Somehow, though, I had fun with it. Even in its most silliest, of silliest moments. Nice review Marshall.

9 03 2015

I wish I could have had the fun you had … instead, I found myself wishing I was at home cleaning up or something.

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