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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Blackhat | Chris Hemsworth, Leehom Wang, Viola Davis, Tang Wei | Review

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3sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE Judy Thorburn

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3lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is MEDIOCRE



For those who aren't computer savvy, and not familiar with the term, 'blackhat' refers to a person who hacks into a computer network with malicious or criminal intent.

The hunt for a “blackhat” is the focus of this cyber crime thriller that is timely considering the recent SONY hacking and reported threats from North Korea that made international headlines.

Michael Mann (Collateral, Manhunter, Public Enemies) directs from a script he cowrote with Morgan Davis Foehl. The story begins with the hacking of a Chinese nuclear power plant that destroys the cooling system and causes a meltdown, followed by a hack into the commodities market of the stock exchange resulting in a soar of soy prices.

What one thing has to do with the other is a mystery, but whoever is responsible needs to be apprehended and stopped before more damage is done and international security threatened. Enter Chris Hemsworth (aka People magazine's sexiest man alive) as Bronx born, MIT wiz turned convicted computer hacker, Nicholas Hathaway, who is released from prison and promised that his sentence will be commuted in exchange for his help in tracking down and capturing the cyber terrorist, whose motives are yet to be known, but is revealed towards the film's conclusion.

Working for the Chinese government is computer wiz Captain Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) who, conveniently, just happens to be Hathaway's former college roommate, and knows that his friend was the lead architect that helped create RAT (short for Remote Access Tool), the computer code used in the attacks. With Hathaway joining Chen and his network engineer sister, Lien Chen (Tang Wei), the trio team up with FBI agent, Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) and embark on a hunt for the cyber criminal that takes them to Chicago, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Jakarta.

Hemsworth has charismatic screen presence and he does his best with the material that he is given, although his Bronx accent is inconsistent. Among the many problems with this movie is the overloaded plot that is marred even further by a series of unlikely, illogical, preposterous scenes and a romantic subplot in which there is a lack of chemistry and sparks between the hunky Hathaway and his love interest, the attractive but wooden, waif-like Lien. Since Lien is his old college roommate's kid sister, are we to assume Hathaway knew her back then, before reconnecting and igniting this love affair?  It is unclear since we are given no back story or history about their relationship.

Billed as an action thriller, there is a steady stream of action featuring the usual fast and furious encounters with a network of thugs that result in man on man fights (shown by way of distracting, frenetic and dizzying camerawork), shootouts, explosions and a pile up of dead bodies, leading up to the climactic showdown with the main villain.  That sequence, set during of a massive parade of colorful costumed dancers and musicians through the streets of Jakarta, is beyond belief and totally ridiculous.  As Hathaway (adorned with magazines taped around his torso as a makeshift...get this... bullet proof vest) and Mr. Bad Guy storm and push their way through the crowds with guns drawn in plain view and shots going off, not one person reacts, pays attention or attempts to cause interference. Maybe that happens in dreams, but not in reality.

The Blackhat starts with an interesting premise, but as the story progresses, not a lot about it makes much sense. With action director Michael Mann at the helm, the film is never boring, yet he delivers a hack job on what had the potential of being a 'smart' cyber thriller.


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