Thursday, January 15, 2015
Michael Mann's cautionary Blackhat is expertly shot and well-acted but needs a serious edit.
WARNING: This review contains spoilers.
Review by Matt CummingsWhen the world is threatened by an unprecedented cyber attack, the US and Chinese governments band together to discover its source, gathering a list of talented cyber agents like the Chinese officer Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) and his sister Kien Chen (Wei Tang) along with the FBI agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis). But that won't be enough to stem the next wave of terror, so Dawai goes to the only person who can help: the imprisoned cyber criminal Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemworth). As their investigation leads all over the world, Hathaway must track the terrorist Sadak (Yorick van Wageningen) and his ruthless associate Kassar (Ritchie Coster) before they completely wipe out Hathaway's team and carry out another attack. Rush hadn't already proven that, Blackhat should shut the door on that needless conversation. Our Chinese duo stand out as both likable and tragic heroes, their arcs serving the greater purpose of the story instead of being elevate to invincible figures. The same goes for Davis who will make a terrific Amanda Waller in the upcoming Suicide Squad, her slow burn eventually giving way to a violent unraveling of her character. Our baddie is rather one-note, but his eventual appearance makes for excellent action when he and Hathaway clash in a great ending. But Blackhat is more than a Mann-fest of gratuitous violence: it serves as a message for a future time when these kinds of attacks will both seriously threaten the world and occur so often that we'll forget what life was like before them. Mann warns us that virtual world nearly encompasses the planet, and that terrorists will wage the next war from their keyboards, imploding the system without risking men in a traditional 20th Century assault. You then add the sometimes deafening roar of Mann's machines of war, and it feels like the perfect message and warning for our times. Blackhat is filled with excellent performances, gorgeous scenes by Mann and DryBurgh, and a haunting soundtrack by Amon. Unfortunately, its long runtime might keep some moviegoers away, especially with the way Mann takes three minutes to do what it could have been in one. But for those who know what they're getting, it's a terrific thriller. Blackhat is rated a surprising R for violence and some language and has a runtime of 133 minutes. Discuss this review with fellow SJF fans on Facebook. On Twitter, follow us at @SandwichJohnFilms, and follow author Matt Cummings at @mfc90125.