Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei, Wang Leehom, Viola Davis
Plot: A team of American and Chinese law enforcement officers seek the help of an imprisoned hacker to help them catch another hacker who is committing cyber crimes across the globe.
Review: The last time Michael Mann made a good movie, it was Collateral, and that was 11 years ago. It seems to me that Blackhat isn't going to be one of those movies from Mann that we'll remember.
The story is as follows: a hacker infiltrates a nuclear power plant in China, causing it to explode. Then he hacks into the stock market in Chicago and raises the soy prices up. Chinese officer Chen Dawai recognizes the code the hacker used as one he had written back in MIT, and persuades the FBI to seek help from his former roommate Hathaway, who is now serving time in prison, since he co-wrote the same code.
I'll try to state what I liked about it first. The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that Blackhat was filmed in my home country, and our tin industry was mentioned. I like this because Malaysia is rarely referenced by Hollywood, and it's nice to see one film get it right. Mann also has a knack for filming realistic shootout sequences, especially in relation to the violence and gore. There are only about three of these in Blackhat, but it was well done.
Unfortunately, Blackhat is boring outside of these shootouts. Mann may have got the shootouts right, but the camerawork isn't so great elsewhere, especially during a foot chase in Hong Kong. The shaky cam style just doesn't work anymore. The script is also full of technical jargon, and writer Morgan Davis Foehl doesn't try hard enough to make it understandable for the layman. To make matters worse, there are moments when the film simply meanders around with no real tension, and everyone on screen doesn't have any motivation to act urgently. I guess it's because when we finally figure out why the hacker is doing all this, it seems rather disappointing, but still, the lead up to that should have been better.
Of the cast, only Wang Leehom seems like he was the right person for the role he got, and did an equally good job too. He plays Chen Dawai well enough to make us believe he knows what he's talking about. Chris Hemsworth tries hard, but the problem is he's rather miscast as Hathaway. Any other actor on the Avengers movie could play a hacker, but Hemsworth is too tall and bulky to look the part. Tang Wei is all right as Dawai's sister Lien, but literally does nothing except being in Hathaway's bed and look hot. Ritchie Coster and Yorick van Wageningen are okay as the villains, but don't get enough screen time to matter. Viola Davis is also miscast as FBI agent Barrett, with a 9/11 history briefly shoved in to generate sympathy, but done too deliberately to be convincing.
In the end, Blackhat is an ambitious effort but much too messy overall to be memorable. Mann has a lot of work to do to regain his ability to entertain movie audiences. (5/10)