Hmmmm, the mighty Thor playing a computer hacker? Well, Chris Hemsworth is a pretty solid actor, if anyone can pull it off….right?
If you’ve not heard the term before, a Blackhat is a computer hacker who acts illegally (a Whitehat is the reverse). Hemsworth plays a Blackhat who has been caught and jailed for his crimes but is given a temporary release, to help catch a more dangerous hacker.
If you’re thinking that this sounds a bit far-fetched then I have bad news for you, it only gets more ridiculous from here. The plot is horribly contrived and sometimes feels like two separate stories have been mashed together. The various government agents from around the world are utterly clueless, not even piecing together obvious clues until Hemsworth’s Nick Hathaway points them out. The bad guys, once revealed, have a plan so badly thought out that I could think of three or four better ways to accomplish it just while watching the film.
Which brings us to one of the bigger problems with Blackhat, the pacing. You’re going to have plenty of time to think about the plot because the first half of this film is so slow and while the various actors do their best, they largely come across as thin and lacking depth. Viola Davis stands out in that she very nearly brings you to care about her character but she’s pretty much it. In the latter half of the film there are a couple of moments where things start to pick up and you think the film might save itself, but no, back to slow again.
Much of the time Blackhat looks very good visually. I’m told that director Michael Mann likes to use handheld digital cameras and sometimes that can be confused for shaky cam. Whether it’s shaky cam or not, as a non expert it all looks the same and while I can (to a certain extent) forgive shaky cam during an action sequence, I certainly don’t need it when characters are just talking to each other. When someone does manage to hold a camera still, things do look very good.
As for those action sequences, Mann certainly knows his stuff and they are realistic and compelling. If only they lasted for more than the few minutes that you get them. The hacking is portrayed quite well but again there’s not much of it.
Ultimately, with a better written script and in the hands of a better director, there is the potential here for something special, that comments on the way we live our lives and the security we take for granted. Sadly, none of that is here.
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