With its badly written screenplay, glacial pace, and disposable characters, Blackhat is an overlong incoherent procedural rather than an edgy cyberthriller.
Set within the world of global cybercrime, Blackhat follows a furloughed convict (Chris Hemsworth) and his American and Chinese partners as they hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta.
After Liam Hemsworth’s as predictable as ABC’s cyberthriller Paranoia, Chris Hemsworth follows suit with Blackhat.
In fairness, Blackhat does have redeeming qualities. The film features an international cast. Michael Mann’s use of hi-def cameras give the film’s action scenes immediacy and kinetic energy. This also infused its settings with realism that made it look timely.
While Mann makes an effort to stage real time action (including a visual representation of how codes do their damage), Blackhat is a film about hacking that seldom features computers, which is one of its many flaws.
The movie jumps from one character to another that none of the cast register past their job description, while the narratives moves at an agonizingly slow pace because it takes a huge chunk of time to figure out everything, even a simple clue.
The cast do their job to inject some life into their characters, but the writing doesn’t give them any chance to inject depth. It’s a huge waste of talent which includes Lee-Hom Wang (of the epic Lust, Caution), who is reduced into a tacked on exotic love interest.
The multi-ethnic team has no plan at all and jumps through different countries while the screenplay becomes more implausible. This involves both clear cut good guys and bad guys doing stupid decisions to draw out the narrative. If a villain could manipulate the market to earn millions why not just do that instead of creating a complex plan? If the good guys could figure this plan with an internet connection and a laptop, why fly to ground zero?
The dialogue is filled with tech lingo that an average person won’t be familiar with and descriptions to help the audience make sense of what’s going on.
As a result, Blackhat is an overlong boring procedural instead of the edgy cyberthriller it aims to be.
A better movie would have given Hathaway a hidden agenda to create tension among the characters instead of turning him into a boy scout. It would have shown that no one is safe against cybercrime not just blow up a couple of water pumps that affect no one except rich stakeholders. It would have reflected the power of anonymity that shows anyone (or even a thing) could be a villain instead of your generic bad guy with a foreign accent. Most of all, the ending would feature actual hacking instead of a fight.
Unfortunately, all these ideas were ignored to create a generic blockbuster. Those who really want an edgy cyberthriller should watch the German movie “Who am I – Kein System ist sicher”.
My Rating: 4/10