BLACKHAT [2015]: in cinemas now [short review]

Directed by:
Written by:
Starring: , , ,




REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic



At a nuclear plant in Hong Kong, a hacker causes the coolant pumps to overheat and explode, soon followed by the Mercantile Trade Exchange in Hong Kong also getting hacked, causing soybean futures to rise. The Chinese government and the FBI determine that the hack was caused by a Remote Access Tool (RAT). Captain Chen Dawai is tasked to find the people responsible for the attacks. It was his college roommate Nicholas Hathaway who wrote the RAT code, so he asks the FBI to release Nicholas from prison where he is serving a sentence for computer crimes. Hathaway is offered temporary release in exchange for his services….

Michael Mann’s latest isn’t one of his best, but it certainly didn’t deserve to flop as hard as it has done [something partly due to dreadful marketing – I mean come on, how timely is computer hacking at the moment?]. It’s actually quite an erratic piece of work for a filmmaker who usually has such great control of things, but it is certainly an entertaining watch even if, as expected, there’s a lot of boring footage of people on computers, an unavoidable thing in films these days let alone a film about computer hacking but never the most interesting thing to watch. Fortunately matters soon become more exciting, not to mention positively preposterous as the film becomes an action thriller, albeit a leisurely paced one, and takes in everything from a huge sum of loot to a villain with a dastardly plan, while Mann seems to sometimes be parodying his own style and even borrows elements from previous films,notably Thief and Heat, though at times this film also feels a bit like a Wong Kar Wai movie.

Blackhat is full of gorgeous neon-dominated shots of its primarily Eastern locations and has some single shots which are really striking, but set against this are some jarring shakycam [you’d think Mann would be above this kind of thing, but this is one of those films that makes you feel sick whenever somebody runs] and some scenes which are full of seemingly random close-ups, giving some of the film a cheap and messy look and feel. Some scenes seem to be shot at a higher frame rate, achieved by altering the camera shutter speed. This is something which Mann seems to be doing more and more and it’s really jarring, especially when the rest of the film isn’t shot in this way. The script seems fairly accurate in terms of technical details, though occasional plunges into actual computer networks suffer from poor effects, while the dialogue is often laughably poor. The central love story is very unconvincing and seems to be just plonked in there because Chris Hemsworth and Wei Tang look so good. Mann still stages some fine set pieces, especially the final showdown set amidst a Jakarta parade, and the largely ambient score by Atticus and his brother Leo adds plenty of atmosphere though eventually gets a bit tiresome [what a shame that most of Harry Gregson-Williams’ score was removed]. Largely lacking the intelligence of most of Mann’s work, Blackhat is still pretty enjoyable, and it’s undoubtedly far better than Miami Vice.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

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About Dr Lenera 1971 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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