Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Thriller, Crime, Action
Run Time: 2 hours 13 minutes, Rated R
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Leehom Wang, Wei Tang, William Mapother, John Ortiz
Directed by Michael Mann (Public Enemies, Collateral, Ali, The Insider, Heat, The Last of the Mohicans, Manhunter)
Chris Hemsworth is a capable and charismatic action star, who has shown that he can carry a film (see Thor) and has also shown flashes of real acting prowess (see Rush). But the fatal flaw of the new Michael Mann cyber-thriller Blackhat(opening today) is that we are to be convinced that Hemsworth can be a brainy computer hacker. Consider my disbelief not only suspended, but thrown out the window entirely.
Yes, the recently voted "Sexiest Man Alive" plays Nicholas Hathaway, a convicted computer cyber-terrorist, and one of the world's best. Why a chiseled ladies man and stereotypical "bad boy" would ever have led a life in front of monitors and keyboards is never addressed. When a series of terrorist attacks begin threatening the world's economy, federal agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis), good-guy hacker Chen (Leehom Wang) and for reasons unknown, his mousy sister Lien (Wei Tang), pull Hathaway from his prison cell in order to help them reign in this faceless menace.
Cyber-crime and terrorism are surely topical subjects, but they are activities incapable of producing any real on-screen drama. So for good measure, this apparent geek squad also gets mixed up in several ho-hum action sequences, chases and gun fights, none of which are all that compelling or even fun to watch unfold.
Even if you can make yourself believe that Chris Hemsworth could be a computer nerd, the adventures of his character Hathaway in this film are even less believable. Female interest Lien seems to be in the film, well, to act as a female interest for our protagonist, and nothing more. Viola Davis, a great actress in her own right, is given a few funny one-liners, none of which fit within the tone the film creates. Her character is hollow, but there isn't a character in this world that isn't. Blackhat creates the same emotional attachment you might find between a gamer and his first-person-shooter avatar.
There are elements here that are somewhat interesting - how cyber-terrorists operate, what they are capable of, how our government is equipped to handle such challenges - but they aren't enough to build a film around. At over two-hours, Blackhat seriously overstays its welcome.
Like The Net and other technology-based thrillers that we've seen in the past, Blackhat will surely have a short shelf-life of relevancy before it seems like an outdated dinosaur when re-watched down the road. At the very least, the film's title made me remember "Fear of a Black Hat,"an outrageously funny mock-umentary film released back in 1993 (find it if you haven't seen it)...so I guess that's something positive.
Yes sadly, Blackhat is not even the best movie in existence featuring the words of its own title.
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