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Movie Review – “Blackhat”

TwitReview- Chris Hemsworth stars in”Blackhat” : a boring, long winded, idiotic movie with tons of techno-babel. Thought provoking idea with such horrible execution. Grade: 2 out of 5 stars

blackhatBlackhat is one of those movies that on paper I’m sure looked like a good idea. You make a movie around the ongoing crisis of cyber-terrorism and you work in some real-world terrorism and then sprinkle in a plan to make millions out of the terrorist acts and the star is that guy from Thor because the women love him and the men want to be him. Now we’ll get Michael Mann to direct because Heat was such a great movie back in 1995 and yeah his more recent movies were not as good (Miami Vice just to name a big one) but he’s still can direct a thriller that is sure to have an amazing action sequence. I bet that’s how the directions for this movie went – guess they should have made the left at Albuquerque as those were some bad directions.

What Worked:

  • Chris Hemsworth plays Nicholas Hathaway a former hacker that is currently sentenced in a PA prison for cyber-attacks he committed. After a terrorist attack at a Chinese nuclear power plant as well as the US banking system, the combined task force from China and the CIA need Hathaway’s help to find the terrorist. The Chinese task force is lead by Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) who’s father used to be the Chinese delegate for the United States so he grew up in the US. His college room-mate was Hathaway and the RAT (remote access trojan) that the terrorist were using was based off of code that both Hathway and Dawai created back in college. CIA agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) reluctantly agrees and works a deal to get Hathway out of prison and into her custody.
  • The two big action sequences were spot on with the intensity of the events unfolding. There is a sequence in the second act in China where Hathway, Dawai, and FBI Agent Mark Jessup (Holt McCallany) find the middleman Kassar (Ritchie Coster) who works for the main bad guy. Kassar is making a run with the cash that was gained from hacked bank accounts that they added funds to by manipulating the stocks market and the Soy trading. Kassar has a small band of mercenaries with him and when his group is attached by the Chinese SWAT team you can feel how intense the action is. The use of shaky camera makes you feel as if you’re in the middle of the action. In the later part of the movie Kassar’s group attacks the task force and the action is explosive and again very intense. 

What Didn’t Work:

  • The pacing of the movie was very slow. Slow to the point that it made the 2-hour and 40-minute run time feel like it was a lot longer. The opening sequence shows us the inner workings of a computer as we follow the RAT making it’s way to the nuclear power plant. This three minute sequence added nothing to the movie and in fact already took the audience OUT OF THE MOVIE because it sets up the slow pacing that just never picks up at all.
  • The plot could have been very thought provoking in that the terrorist plot is one that should challenge our safety. However the techno-babel and missuses of technology made Blackhat become a farce in scope of reality. To much time is spent of closeups of the computer screen and hack (had to go there with the pun!) computer DOS scripts with command lines of gobbledygook. Adding to this is that at the end of the day this is just another heist flick that tries to have the bad guy do something on such a large scale that it distracts the rest of the world from watching the money that has been stolen and now pocketed. The scale was so over the top that it’s almost cartoony in that you wonder if Cobra Commander was behind the whole thing.
  • Lets talk about cliche’ . You have the bearded mastermind with the slick talking and short temper played by Yorick van Wageningen as he has his mercenaries by his side lead by Kassar. And of course those mercenaries are all cliche’ as well as the hired help of Kassar’s picking. Then there is the US Government operatives in both the CIA and the NSA who all have sticks up their rear and just can’t trust China as they are still the “enemy” yet we have global shipping import/export deals with their commerce departments. The studios miss the cold-war / iron-curtain movies of the 80’s and 90’s with a defined enemy so they have to manufacture the “hate” by exaggerating the mistrust between the two countries.
  • I won’t even get into the love story between Hathaway and Dawai’s sister Lein Chen (Wei Tang) that just seems to happen and is more out of want and less then love between the two characters. It just didn’t feel like a natural flow but more of a forced “step” inside the script.

Final thoughts:

Rated R with a run time of 240 minutes, Blackhat is mess of a movie with a grand idea that is underutilized due to poor and slow pacing, bad script, and cliche’ characters.

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