Dumb script is not worthy of a theaterical release. Watch TV's "24" instead.
- 1 STAR
Film Review © 2015 by Trip Reynolds
Directed by Michael Mann. Screenplay by Morgan Davis Foehl. Produced by Jon Jashni, Michael Mann, and Thomas Tull. Executive produced by Alex Garcia and Eric McLeod. Co-produced by Julie Herrin, Diane L. Sabatinni, and Michael Solinger. Associate produced by Maggie Chieffo. Line producer - Indonesia, John Radel.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth (as super-smart computer geek, Nick Hathaway), Leehom Wang (as China's cyber warfare unit leader, Captain Chen Dawai), Wei Tang (as Dawai's sister, Chen Lien), Viola Davis (as FBI Agent Carol Barrett), Holt McCallany (as FBI Agent Mark Jessup), Andy On (as Alex Trang), Ritchie Coster (as Elias Kassar), Christian Borle (as Jeff Robichaud), John Ortiz (as Henry Pollack), Yorick van Wageningen (as Sadak), Tyson Chak (as Tech), and a host of others.
There's an expectation that theatrically released films should be more exciting, more provocative, more insightful, more intriguing, just better than whatever we might routinely see on television or cable. So, when episodic television shows are better than theatrically released films, avoid the film - stay home and watch the TV show instead.
"Blackhat" is about a convicted super-duper-hacker, Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) who is furloughed by FBI Agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) to help capture a super-cyber-terrorist who caused coolant pumps to overheat at a nuclear plant in Hong Kong, and who also caused soy futures to rise at the Mercantile Trade Exchange in Chicago. Captain Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang), head of China's cyber warfare unit, discovered the Remote Access Tool (RAT) computer code used to hack into the Hong Kong nuclear plant was actually written by him and his former college roommate, Hathaway. To capture the super-cyber-terrorist, Dawai contacted FBI Agent Barrett to release Hathaway, and together they jointly pursue his capture. From this point on, the film became extremely predictable, and ignored common sense:
- Even though Hathaway proved he could anticipate where and when the super-cyber-terrorist might attack, nevertheless, the FBI turned against him and Hathaway found himself being similarly pursued.
- Of course, Hathaway develops a romantic interest with Captain Dawai's sister, Chen Lien (Wei Tang).
- A gunfight occurs where trained and armed FBI Agents are killed, but somehow untrained and unarmed Hathway and Chen Lien escape a barrage of rapid fire from repeating rifles, pistols, etc.
- In the finalé, untrained Hathaway defeats several trained and armed terrorists even in one-on-one combat.
- Hathaway and Chen Lien "acquire" all of the ill-gotten money from the super-cyber-terrorist, and disappear to live happily ever after.
Hemsworth is known primarily for his starring role as "Thor" in the Marvel films, but here he functions more as eye-candy than as someone who actually knows how to hack into extremely diverse super-encrypted computer networks. It's not Hemsworth's fault he's a goodlooking man, but the script is at fault for not giving his character, Hathaway, more depth and realism.
Director, writer, and producer Michael Mann has his hands in many aspects of the film industry. Perhaps, "Heat (1995)" starring Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Val Kilmer is the best theatrically released film directed by Michael Mann. However, "Blackhat" is not a good film, which says less about Mann's directorial ability and more about the scripts he chose or was picked to direct. Editing by Mako Kamitsuna, Jeremiah O'Driscoll, Stephen E. Rivkin, and Joe Walker seemed uneven and episodic, and film should have been trimmed from 133 minutes to 40 minutes for broadcast on commerical television. There's an expectation that theatrically released films should be more exciting, more provocative, more insightful, more intriguing, just better than whatever we might routinely see on television or cable.
Recommendation: Watch any season of TV's "24" starring Kiefer Sutherland.