When cyber terrorists attack power plants in both the US and China, the two governments join forces to get to the root of the problem and find the hacker. To do this, however, they need the help of convicted cyber criminal Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth).
It is truly difficult to make a film about people tapping on computers interesting, even if the activity they are engaged in is catching a cyber criminal mastermind before he strikes again, and this is one of the main problems with Blackhat, one that not even the Tron/Hackers inspired opening could help.
Each of the cast – Viola Davis, Chris Hemsworth, Leehom Wang, Wei Tang – do fine with their roles, but Morgan Davis Foehl’s script does not allow them to be fleshed out or to do anything that will not move the story along. That said, many events in the film seem to happen simply because the script said they had to, would it have been so detrimental to the film if the guy and girl didn’t hook up!?
Speaking of story, the one at the centre of Blackhat is relatively simple, but as son as we start getting into detail and intricacies, silliness begins to creep in. Characters are given one-line back-stories in the hope they will be more relatable, the dialogue is often filled with exposition and cheesy lines, technology works in ways that no-one has ever even thought of before and the noble band of international investigators travel around the world for seemingly no reason. Let’s not even mention the ridiculous final set piece in which people get stabbed in the head in public, with no-one so much as batting an eyelid. As well as this, as is to be expected from a film about computer hacking, the entire affair is rather dull and uninteresting, despite the efforts to the contrary.
As director, Michael Mann seems to have abandoned his trademark skill in making tightly paced, slick thrillers, making Blackhat bloated and often nonsensical. The film is badly shot, with key elements often out of focus, badly edited so as to be overly long and make little sense and there are even times when lines spoken in Mandarin seem to be badly dubbed over the actors’ lip movements.
In all, Blackhat is a dull and uninteresting film about computer hacking. Attempts are made to make the characters more human and the progression more exciting, but Blackhat lacks style, coherence or even a sense of fun – this ain’t no Hackers – and is filled with bad dialogue and often nauseating camera movements.