Blackhat (2015)

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Film review of the Michael Mann directed action thriller starring Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis.

Director: Michael Mann.

Action/Adventure/Fantasy

2stars - Fair passes the time

Cast & credits

Producers: Jon Jashni, Michael Mann, Thomas Tull.
Writer: Morgan Davis Foehl.
Camera: Stuart Dryburgh.
Music: Harry Gregson-Williams, Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross.
Sets: Guy Hendrix Dyas.

Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang, Leehom Wang, Holt McCallany, Andi On, Ritchie Coster, Christian Borle, John Ortiz, Yorick van Wageningen.

Synopsis

A furloughed convict (Hemsworth) and his American and Chinese partners hunt a high-level cybercrime network from America to Hong Kong and Jakarta.

Review

Michael Mann films can feel like a ‘long night’s journey into day’ and I’m not just talking about his predilection for filming (admittedly visually arresting) cityscape action scenes in the evening (see Collateral, 2004 and his big screen version of his hit eighties TV series Miami Vice, 2006).

His films can be lengthy (drawn out?), meticulously planned and constructed crime affairs, Blackhat postersometimes deliberately slowed to a veritable crawl before he steps on the pedal to push your seated adrenaline levels to the max.

Blackhat is no different to Heat (1995) and those other films but suffers from a leaden, wooden, merely-functional feel in comparison, as if the requisite cool factor has been replaced by computer geek mumbling.

It’s difficult to make a hacker film sexy. Lines of code whizzing through the insides of  computers and down phone lines so many times would only float so many boats although, truth be told, the opening internal hack is a fine piece of film.

But Mann is nothing short of a master with a camera and editing crew and does his best with the cinematic tricks up his sleeve to maintain your interest. There are, of course, the flashy chase sequences, an almost epileptic mobile camera and some juicy close-ups of sections of people’s faces, underlining the frenetic journey to find a hacker hell-bent on destroying whole communities to get what he wants. Blackhat, if nothing else, keeps up an awesome level of energy throughout.

It helps of course that he has a throbbingly gorgeous cast of young ‘uns, led by that slab of Aussie tasty Hemsworth whose chest and forearms almost steal the show. One can ignore the annoyingly slow, purposefully-to-appear-cool mid-range accent he adopts, when you have this perfectly acceptable item of ‘equal objectification’ to objectify.

Hemsworth is a good-looking guy and has put in a ferocious output of film recently (nine films over the past five years and with another four either completed or nearly finished for release this year) but he will need to steer away from films such as this that reveal more of his body than his acting talent if he wants to be taken seriously in future.

You see more of him than you do his pretty but underused female co-star Tang. Davis doesn’t need to try and appear cool she just is and thus effortlessly walks away with the acting honours in a film that doesn’t try to earn them.

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