Director: Michael Mann
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang, Jon Ortiz, Leehom Wang, and Holt McCallany
Technologically driven cybercrime has steadily increased with the advancements of powerful technology easily accessed. Computer hackers are creating havoc on a corporate, governmental, and personal level. The release of information and content that nearly crumbled a major company or the invasion of privacy and identity that is happening this very second, the computer is an avenue of serious crime for some people. The world perspective of this specific crime has offered numerous adaptations and seems fitting for director Michael Mann, known for films like “Collateral” and “The Insider”, to tackle with his distinctive brand of films. “Blackhat”, another term for a computer hacker, has all the stylized flair of a Michael Mann film but unfortunately doesn’t offer much more than clichéd computer rhetoric and run-and-gun action scenes.
A high level organization of cyber criminals creates a catastrophic malfunction in a nuclear facility in Hong Kong. A task force is organized by the Chinese government to hunt and stop the network that perpetrated the attack. Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) is a highly skilled computer hacker who is serving a prison sentence; a code that he wrote was partially utilized to assist in the attack in China. The Chinese task force gains assistance from America after another attack, this time targeting the stock exchange, and the group releases Nick to assist in the globe trotting investigation.
“Blackhat” is crammed with material; from the shifting and jet setting plot, to numerous subplots and character developments, the film rarely takes the time to slow down to explain much of these matters. Instead the film moves from locale to locale in chase of an unknown subject, watching the chaotic maze of numbers and symbols on a computer screen. Mann handles many of these movements with ease, implementing his patented style of shooting in the natural settings of the night with quick and frenzied action sequences abetted by startling unexpected violence. In one of the films better sequences, shot against the golden glow of the city lights, Mann’s skills are executed with heightened tension and breakneck action. Some of the images utilized by Mann seem to correlate the disconnection promoted by technology, the loneliness of a world dominated by technology wherein the characters are most comfortable in front of a computer screen than sitting across from another person, as one scene obviously points out. Unfortunately these images aren’t supported by the narrative, which suffers from a lack of cohesiveness. Whether the inane, overly complicated motivations of the criminals or the misplaced emotional aspects, the tone consistently feels disorganized.
Michael Mann seems like the perfect choice to tackle the themes proposed in “Blackhat”, the disconnection found in people and the isolation found in society are two elements found in many of his films that are also present here. Many times throughout “Blackhat” Mann’s direction and style elevates the material with assistance from some great performances by Viola Davis, Wei Tang, and Leehom Wang in strong supporting roles. However, there are more moments when the film becomes lost in its own cluttered conceptions rendering “Blackhat” a film with undeniable style misguided by a narrative that doesn’t match the flash.
2.75 out of 5.00