Blackhat (R) - Runtime: 133 minutes
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang
Director: Michael Mann
Writer: Morgan Davis Foehl
Release Date: January 16
Michael Mann has been a consistent director over the past 20 years with great movies like Heat, Collateral and Public Enemies. He hasn't really garnered as much love lately (his last movie to garner any sort of awards buzz was Collateral over 10 years ago. Granted, he's only directed three movies since then, but I've enjoyed most of his movies (except for that mess of a reboot, Miami Vice). With Blackhat he tackles the criminal world, only this time it's through the lens of the cyber terrorist. And not only was this movie good, it managed to be one of the more realistic depictions of hacking in movies.
First of all, Mann is known for creating some stunning visuals in his movie and Blackhat continues that. From what I saw from the trailer I thought the computer sequences where the camera goes inside the computer to trace the virus would be extremely hokey and completely absurd. Not only were these visuals thrilling, but highly informative, if not somewhat realistic. It's fun to see once the guy presses enter to follow the lighted virus flow through the wires and microscopic computer chips. But on the macro level, Mann creates some great wide shots of Hong Kong and other Asian locales. There's a lot of quiet moments in this film and Mann works them to perfection whether if it is to focus on a character's thoughts or grief or to let us soak in the beauty of what we're seeing.
It seems like people are getting caught up with Hemsworth and his physique. How can some computer nerd be this physically fit? It's stupid! Well, the movie explains his back story a little bit and honestly, it's such a minor complaint that I don't know why people can't get past it. The dude's built like a machine and he kicks ass on top of being a whiz at the computer. It's not that unrealistic. And while the performances here aren't the strong suit of the movie, Hemsworth and the supporting cast are good enough.
The plot is pretty straight forward and doesn't have too many twists - Hemsworth has to keep following the evidence he finds to trace the hacker back to where he's hiding out. I think a lot of people will get bored by this movie after the first half an hour and possibly get confused by all the tech talk. But if you stick through with it, there's a rewarding and satisfying ending. I promise. The movie is also extremely relevant to current events as of late, if I may state the obvious. And honestly, the events that happen in this movie have actually happened in real life. Just read this article. I was captivated throughout the whole movie - there's enough thrills to find out where the next scene will take you and the visuals mixed with the fantastic score make for a great slow-burn thriller.
While this movie isn't going to win any awards, it's still a solid and entertaining thriller with all the usual Michael Mann trappings. If you don't catch this one at the theater, at least check it out on video because it's well worth your time.
RATING: HATS OFF TO MICHAEL MANN FOR THIS THRILLER