Movie 411: Blackhat

Directed by: Michael Mann (Miami Vice 2006)
Screenplay by: Morgan David Fohel (assistant editor to Click, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry)
Rated: R
Released: January 16, 2015
The Hook: Hacker movie

Hacker movie? Really, that was your draw?

Absolutely! No lie. I’m a sucker for cybercrime busting.

So the fact that you’re a chick and Thor stars in it has nothing to do with it?

Nothing at all. I’m a cyber geek at heart. Always have been. And if I had the money to go for my BA in European History plus enroll in the Ethical Hacking course to become a certified white hat (not to mention the money to take the test to actually earn my certification), I would. In a heartbeat.

I have to say though, the readings I’ve done on this movie questioned the fact that someone who looks like Chris Hemsworth to play a computer geek. They have every right to, but … with the ever changing world of technology now days and the fact that the next generation of computer users are a vast pool of people compared to the previous generation, your stereotypical image geek–the awkward fashion sense with thick, dark glasses–just doesn’t seem to be the only image we should be considering. Sure, computer geeks don’t tend to be athletic, preferring tinkering with electronics over kicking a soccer ball, but that doesn’t mean someone who looks like Chris Hemsworth can’t be a geek. I’m just saying.

And now back to the movie.

Plot: Overall it’s your typical hacker plot. A big unknown hacker is threatening national security and the government can’t find a single white hat person save the world because the code used by the big bad unknown hacker was done by a black hat who is serving time in federal prison for doing what black hats sometimes do, cause cyber chaos. And, since no other white hat could possibly crack this particular code, they exchange a deal with this black hat. Your typical “if you help us you’re pardoned. National security and the lives of millions are at stake.” Yes, the plot has been done before. Yes, it sounds straightforward. Yes, it sounds kind of boring. And oh my goodness, it sort of was. Let’s just say I’m glad it was part of a double feature. I know! Shut up, right? But I’m sorry, I really am. It was shockingly boring to me. All I could do through out the movie was compare it to Live Free and Die Hard and it kept failing. The story seemed to drag on during some parts and then felt rushed through others. The overall story arch just felt a bit weak. I think I have to watch it again, just to make sure, but to me they put a face to the bad guy just a little too late and when they did put a face to the bad guy, it just fizzled; it wasn’t a BAM! You know? I was like “this is your uber bad guy? This is the guy who wants to push the price of tin to the top tier? Why? Who is he? What has he actually done that he’s the uber baddie?” The one angle I found interesting was that instead of the crimes being discovered in America and kept American, the writers exposed the problem through China and had the Chinese government contact the American government for possible collaboration to capture this big bad hacker.

Oh, and the romantic story line? Was it necessary? Call me a buzzkill, but I didn’t even feel a connection between those two. I mean, I get Nick and Chen were roommates in college so a relationship with Chen’s sister seems plausible. But it didn’t seem like Nick and Lien had any contact until they met in America. And then, boom, crazy attraction? I don’t know.

So, it lacked plot and story.

Acting: Not bad. I mean, the story is hard to sell so … maybe it affected the acting? It wasn’t terrible. I think Hemsworth did a decent job and so did Leehom Wang (Chen) and Wei Tang (Lien, Chen’s sister). The on-screen chemistry between Hemsworth and Tang? Questionable. I think the chemistry was better with Natalie Portman.

I was surprised to see Viola Davis (Carol Barrett). I haven’t really seen her since Without A Trace, and then I realized that I just didn’t recognize her in the other movies I’ve seen since then (The Help being one of them). Maybe because she transitioned from TV to Movie. I’m not sure, but I think she did okay in her role as FBI.

So, acting was decent. Not out-of-the-park, but not down-in-the-gutter either.

Visuals: The visual appeal wasn’t too bad. Your basic blow-em-up shots and action shots. There were a few scenes where I felt a bit dizzy because it seems like the camera jumps angles instead of flowing into another perspective, but overall it was manageable.

I don’t think I’ll be adding this one to the library. I’d probably watch it on Netflix or maybe I’ll borrow it from the library. And as excited as I was about this being a computer geek movie, I think it’s a good one to skip. I know. I don’t usually say that, but even Hackers had a little more depth to it. The Net? Better. Yeah, if you’re a huge fan of the hacker world, it wouldn’t hurt to maybe catch this movie if you’ve got nothing and your in a mood to give it a chance, but I don’t think it’s an absolute-TBW movie.


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