Monday, February 13, 2017

Film Review: Blackhat (2015)

Blackhat (Review)
United States/2015
Format Viewed For Review: HBO Now
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"It's not a compelling story about the dangers of hacking, it's not a thrilling film filled with tension and action. It's somewhere lost in the middle, wondering what it's supposed to be."

A furloughed convict and a special international task force hunt a cyber-criminal around the world...

Blackhat is a painfully average film. The plot severely lacks a sense of urgency and, well, plot. It struggles to maintain any sort of momentum from beginning to end. Essentially, a hacker causes a deadly accident at a Hong Kong nuclear plant. Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang), the head of China's cyber warfare unit, is placed in charge of the investigation. He enlists his sister, Lien (Tang Wei), and heads to the United States for more assistance. He even convinces the FBI to release Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) from prison since he was the creator of the original Remote Access Tool used in the attack. Anyway, this group tracks the code around the world. There are some very predictable subplots here – who would have guess Lien would have a thing for Nicholas? – and the plot doesn't really have any impact. The ending doesn't leave an impression, either.


Blackhat is a disappointing film. I really wanted to enjoy this movie. There are some interesting hacking visuals, there are a few suspenseful moments, and the scale of the film is great. Unfortunately, the plot just never feels like it's moving. Okay, there are some exceptional action sequences, but everything else feels bland and forgettable. The characters are hollow and generic, their relationships are predictable, and the 'villain' fails to leave an impression. The unnecesarily slow pacing isn't even the film's biggest issue. It's just uneventful. This is a ~130-minute film and it feels ridiculously bloated. I know, it's not even that long, but it just doesn't do anything memorable with its time.

The acting was good, though. Chris Hemsworth and Leehom Wang appear to be in a competition of who can be the coolest. In other words, they don't really fit the role of 'hackers.' They're not bad actors, though. Tang Wei, due to her character being just another love interest, doesn't get a chance to shine. The film looks good, though. I like the way it was shot. The visuals were great, too. The music was good. On the technical side, it's a great film. The film was written by Michael Mann and Morgan Davis Foehl; Mann also directs. This plot really needed to be fine-tuned and amplified. It needed to trim that fat and gain some muscle. The writing offers an interesting narrative about hacking, one that appers to be grounded in reality, but it doesn't pack a punch. The direction fails to do the same, opting to fill the film with countless scenes of overused cliches and filler.

Overall, Blackhat is a mediocre film. The hacking visuals are interesting, the settings are great, and the action sequences are solid. The plot, however, fails to deliver. It's not a compelling story about the dangers of hacking, it's not a thrilling film filled with tension and action. It's somewhere lost in the middle, wondering what it's supposed to be. It's not the worst film I've ever seen, but it is one of the most disappointing.

Score: 4/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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