Sunday, June 14, 2015

I rent, I watch, I review: Blackhat


When you're a filmmaker as revered as Michael Mann, the more films you make, the more your reputation proceeds you. Watching "Blackhat," it really doesn't feel like anything more than just a pure genre film. No big, sweeping statement. This isn't a grand epic. It's just a really solid, well-made cyber action/thriller. Is it perfect? No. Chris Hemsworth was miscast as the lead, an MIT-grad turned computer hacker who's also incredibly buff. He's also pretty cocky about his intelligence, which shouldn't be a surprise. If you look like Chris Hemsworth and you happen to be an MIT-level genius, then, uh... yeah, you pretty much have it all.

There's a lot of hardcore "suspension of disbelief" going on with this movie and many of the film's critics just weren't having any of it. Hemsworth's character is in prison when the movie starts and he's hired by the FBI to track down a hacker known as a "blackhat." This hacker's main goal seems to involve just creating a shit ton of destruction around the world while also stealing millions of dollars. The only man who can stop him is Nicholas Hathaway (Hemsworth). And he will. Of course.

But the difference between this film and your average crime/thriller? Michael Mann. He can do this type of film in his sleep, and yes, there are times when he appears to be on autopilot. But, I must say, with the striking digital photography, the camerawork, the typical stoic Mann-esque characters, the seemingly doomed, inevitable romance... all the elements are there for an enjoyable film. I enjoyed "Blackhat" a lot more than I thought I would. Am I just a Mann fanboy? Well, I didn't love "Public Enemies." So, I don't know. But I do think this is a lot better than people give it credit for. It may not have anything particularly new to say about this hyper-tech world, but it's still entertaining to see Mann dive knee-deep into it. And the last 30 minutes is nearly silent, featuring Hemsworth and his love interest (Tang Wei) taking careful steps on planning the big climactic showdown. I loved those last 30 minutes.

Definitely worth a rent, I'd say. Despite flaws in the casting (Viola Davis, usually great, isn't given much to do here), "Blackhat" is a solidly made, occasionally superb thriller.

Grade: B+

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