Movies come and go. Some leave you thinking, some make you excited, and some put you to sleep. Blackhat is the latter. After an opening sequence in which a hacker attacks a nuclear reactor in China, the whole thing kind of collapses. The “terrorist’s” next target is a stock exchange, but he really has no bearing on the movie.
The movie follows Chinese cop Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) as he tries to find the man responsible for causing a meltdown in a Chinese nuclear reactor. He soon finds out that the program that broke into the computer was his own, which was co-written by Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth). After enlisting his sister Lien (Tang Wei) he convinces FBI Agent Carol Bennett (Viola Davis) to release Hathaway and they set off to find the mystery hacker. After plodding around and finding clues stateside they follow the money from the stock exchange hack to China, and after sitting around falling in love, bickering about sisters and friends, it’s all quiet dull, until a mercenary named Kassar takes out the officers watching him and our heroes finally leap into action.
The absurd action has guys shooting each other from behind things, with nobody making any headway until the bad guys get a kill and are allowed to wander off. The good guys go back to analyzing data for a while after getting their hands on the irradiated computer in China until they hit a roadblock that forces Hathaway to hack into the NSA, sealing his fate as a prisoner (Why did he have to fall in love?). So as they are taking Hathaway back to prison before going on to find the mystery hacker, the good guys start jumping out in front of bullets when Kassar attacks, seemingly so they can die and get out of the way so Hathaway can show Lien what a tough guy he is. So the man outside of the law must then fight for the woman he loves to stop a hacker from earning even more money. Pretty lame conquest for a hacker, they are always much more interesting villains when they are out to get someone or some group.
There is no threat of world domination, or bringing governments to their knees; just some jerk that wants money and apparently isn’t satisfied with 75 million US dollars. The techno-babble makes less sense than Star Trek Voyager at its worst, yet it goes on and on until your eyes begin forcing themselves to close to save your brain from a total meltdown on stupid. There is little action to be had and the ending is anything but climactic.
All of this might have been a bit more tolerable in a 90-minute wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am thriller, but this movie is two hours and fifteen minutes long, length that should be reserved for movies with substance and/or excitement. This movie could have been cut by forty-five minutes and everything would make just as little sense and we could still have the cheesy love story. By the time shots are finally fired in anger there isn’t enough of it to make up for the tedium leading up to it; and the love story is the most painful thing to watch since Padmé met Anakin in a shop on Tatooine. At least the story of Padmé and Anakin eventually lead to an awesome lightsaber duel or three, there is nothing coming down the tube to make suffering through this bloated affair worthwhile.
It’s hard to imagine what Michael Mann intended when he directed this movie. It’s not trying to say much about Internet security as all of the computer talk in the movie is rubbish. There are only a couple action sequences and they are almost identical and dull. With no introduction of the mystery hacker until the end of third act and no real threat from him looming there is no suspense. The love story is tacked on and far too uneventful to be of any interest. The mystery hacker has no character even after he reveals himself in his Hawaiian shirt (No, he’s not Boris from Goldeneye, sadly). It all folds together to make a really dull mess of a film that doesn’t warrant a second thought besides, “What the fuck were they thinking?”.
If you must see this move I suggest a heavy regimen of pre-drinking cough syrup so you can sleep in comfort on your cheap Tuesday excuse to leave the house. If you really want advice on what to see this week, check out the Christmas classics still in theatres, like The Hobbit or The Imitation Game. Or just stay home and watch Hackers; even the cringe-worthy villains in that film top the dull absurdity of Blackhat. The CGI thankfully, is better looking.