release date: 16 January 2015 (Canada)
run time: 133 mins
considered: Action, Crime, Drama
director: Michael Mann
starring: Chris Hemsworth, Leehom Wang, Wei Tang, Viola Davis, Holt McCallany, Andy On, Ritchie Coster, Christian Borle, John Ortiz, Yorick van Wageningen, Tyson Chak, Brandon Molale, Danny Burstein, Archie Kao, Abhi Sinha
movie summary: Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) is locked away in a maximum security Federal Prison, serving 15 years or more for committing a series of cyber crimes. Hailed as one of the best hackers alive, Nicholas’ sentence will be put on hold when a former college roommate, Captain Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang), comes to bail him out to come work for him. In China there was a security breach that destroyed a nuclear power plant which caused a rippled effect in the stock market, forcing the Chinese and American governments to team up to stop the next cyber attack. Along with Dawai’s sister Lien (Wei Tang) the trio will team up with Agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) to bring down this terrorist who promises to destroy more properties across the globe to prove his point of powerless the government really is. TIme is not on their side as the crew race across the streets of Chicago, Jakarta, Malaysia, and Hong Kong to find their target who is almost invisible.
my thoughts: I’m a little late getting this review out to everyone since I watched this way back in early January. You’re probably wondering what Blackhat is all about and if you should bother to check it out, but the sad news is this movie bombed so bad at the theatres that it was pulled. Blackhat had a budget over $70 million and barely made $19 million, including the $7.43 I paid to see it. There are a lot of negative reviews out there and after sitting through the 133 minutes I can see where a lot of people’s opinions are coming from although I didn’t hate it as much as they did.
The beginning of the movie is extremely and painfully slow. It got to the point I felt a snack would be better than watching power surges through wires on the screen so I got up and left. When I came back, the nuclear power plant was burning down and the task force was trying their best to piece everything together. Then our hero Chris Hemsworth steps into the picture. He looks really different without his cape and hammer, but still he’s the main character in the movie. Nicholas is a mastermind hacker with the gift to solve or cause any computer related problem. Despite not being known for being a computer wiz in other super hero movies, Hemsworth comes across a believable hacker. He presents himself as the would be jock in college who parties all day long and manages to still get straight A’s, on top of being the most popular guy on the FBI cyber terrorist list. The only flaw I had with his character is his taste in women. I had a very hard time believing in the romance portrayed between Nicholas and Lien because they just didn’t look right as a couple. The weird thing is their romance goes all the way back to college when Nicholas and Chen were roommates. This wasn’t one of those romances that got built up from working so close together, surviving death a few times, and then catching the bad guys, it was a romance forbidden because Nicholas is reckless and she’s always being protected. I bring up their romance because it turns into a subplot that moves the story along and has a major impact on outcome, let along why a few people end up dead in the middle.
Blackhat is built up a brilliant hacker movie, a movie about catching cyber terrorist in today’s world when people can become invisible. There are only a handful of elite hackers out there that are able to pull off such job and we get to follow three of them on their conquest to catch the best. Like I mentioned before the story was really slow but once Hemsworth gets involved the story picks up speed and has many action parts that you wouldn’t expect in a movie about computers. Many terrorists employ small armies for protection and to cover their tracks, Sadak (Yorick van Wageningen) is no exception. His henchmen led by Elias Kassar (Ritchie Coster) will leave behind a huge body count while protecting their leader as he prepares for his next big crime. These ruthless guys will not shy away from opening fire on people in the public or blowing up their cars when the agents get too close. There’s a lot of chaos here and these events help build drama and tension for out two main characters as they inch ever closing to solving the crime. By the time things started to explode and guns started to fire I was hooked on the movie and couldn’t wait to see how it unfolded. Michael Mann does a great job of building everything to fever pitch, so much so that we only meet the bad guy for the first time in the final couple of minutes, when we finally get a face to face encounter with Nicholas. The way everything goes down at the end is not the way I would have ended the build up, but hey worse things could have happened I suppose. It kinda left a feeling inside that the ending was rushed and wasn’t as impactful as the build up made it out to be.
I understand I am one of the few who actually enjoyed this flick, but there are many things to enjoy about it. Hemsworth came across great a regular guy who didn’t need to flex his muscles to be a hero. Viola Davis is always a great selection for almost any role because she is very versatile and even with small sub plot roles, she can still be effective. I didn’t know anything about Leehom Wang or Wei Tang but both contributed to the story in more ways than I could have expected. They look like average people and no one would expect them to be as brilliant as they turn out to be. Besides a handful of solid casting selections, my favourite part of this movie was the soundtrack scored by Harry Greyson-Williams. It was powerful enough to make the tense moments even better while bringing to life the actions sequences and chases that ensued. I’ve tried to look for this online but no one anywhere seems to have it.
my final thoughts: Blackhat begins as a slow build before its lead star (Hemsworth) comes into the picture and brings it to life. Besides some lame computer moments, this film does present a handful of action sequences that will leave you craving for more. Some of you will turn away from this 133 mins movie and I respect your decision to, just know that I enjoyed this movie and wouldn’t consider it the bust so many thing claim it to be.
my star rating: 6 out 10
imdb: 5.6 out 10
rottentomatoes: 30% out 100%
roger ebert: 3.5 out 4
richard crouse: 2 out 5