review//BLACKHAT

Grade: D

BLACKHAT
Directed Michael Mann
Starring Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang

Known for his particularly realistic style of films like Heat, The Insider, and Collateral, Michael Mann has built an impressive career out of edgy, sophisticated, and jolting motion pictures. His new action thriller, Blackhat, employs some of his signature visuals and resonating soundtrack moments, but fails to connect as a cohesive piece of work.

After a cyber attack on a Chinese factory is linked to a cyberstorm of epic proportions, the Chinese and U.S. governments convene to help bring the cyber-terrorist down. The only problem is that top officials can't seem to figure out the source of the attack. They choose to turn to a convict currently serving time for a number of crimes who previously co-authored the strain of code linked to the attacks. Nick Hathaway, played with leading-man gruffness by Chris Hemsworth, is every bit the smart, intelligent criminal from the moment we meet him. His new freedom allows him free reign to take every inch of the rabbit trail with ease. Jumping from Los Angeles, to Hong Kong, and Jakarta, Blackhat is an international whodunit with a billion twists and turns throughout.

Mann is best when he allows a scene to sell itself. There are hints of greatness webbed in between scenes of silly dialogue or pointless action. In Collateral, there was a sense of realness, thanks to lingering moments of quietness and personal brute. In Blackhat, any moment that hints at this same ease is quickly interrupted. The main culprit for this film's demise is the by-the-books action script by Morgan Davis Foehl. In his defense, the performers seem to be taking every cue from a rule book of classic (a term used loosely) action performances. A line heavy in technobabble doesn't mean the audience will just write it off as smart speech. In actuality, it comes across more as a script that fills any scene with clever words to mask the fact that there isn't much meat to the plot.

The film looks great, mostly. Plus, Hemsworth isn't so bad as an action star. It's the film taking itself too seriously that really seems to get in the way. It's also as if there were a lot of ideas involved in the creation of the plot which, naturally, couldn't make the final cut. This leaves a very choppy and disoriented, not to mention unrealistic, action film that will probably find a permanent home in the $5 bin at Wal-Mart.

It's hard to fully rely on the longevity of a technology-based film. Think of movies like The Net and how they've held up over the years. In Blackhat, poor graphics and a dull plot leave much to be desired. 

Rating: R
Runtime: 133 minutes

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