Runtime: 133 Mins
What To Expect: A dull movie with baffingly loose ends
Since he celebrated his 72nd birthday last week, I hope this isn’t Michael Mann’s last movie, or last big one at least. On almost every level it’s inferior to his previous movies, not least the likes of Heat. Truth be told his movies have been on a slowly downward spiral since that movie and I was hoping this movie would turn the tide, especially since it’s such a neat concept and coming at a time when cyber warfare is extremely real, with the world’s super powers investing as much into their cyber divisions as their airborne divisions. I’m not sure how Mann fucked this up, but I figure some studio involvement might to blame, more on that below.
This film opens almost brilliantly, a hacker screws up the cooling system of a Chinese nuclear power plant (anyone remember the StuxNet crisis with Iran’s reactors?). As a response the FBI and the Chinese authorities, baffled as to how to snag the superhacker, send a hacker to catch a hacker. That would be Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), doing 15 for cyber crimes. We’re introduced to Hathaway winning support from his fellow convicts by using a Smartphone to add $900 to every one of their bank accounts. Talk about paying for protection…
After this promising half hour or so, the movie really falls apart and the problems pile up. The enemies are dull at best, faceless and pointless at worst. It really does strain the viewer if there’s 133 minutes of hunting without a fleshed out enemy to back it up. I also expected some really clever back and forth… you know, hackery, but it stoops to the likes of some crappy flaming – “fuck off and die” is one retaliation – from the baddie to Hemsworth over private chat interface. I mean come on, there was nothing more impressive than that?
There’s also a problem of a feeling of things being left out, such as how Hemsworth and his Asian colleague (love interest, yawn) can fly to and fro, to one end of the planet to the other without a dime to their names, and that’s when I started to wonder if this movie was actually a much longer film that had had a hatchet taken to it. It seems unintuitive and incomplete, like important things missing, the remainder being harshly edited into a plothole-ridden chore. Was it originally much longer, like many a Mann movie, perhaps a three hour movie that has been castrated? Or perhaps given the issues at hand here, did the Chinese demand the removal of this and that? Wouldn’t be the first time.
It has a good introduction and has some of Mann’s trademark coolness throughout. But Blackhat is half a movie. And a boring one overall. What happened Michael?