I love movies. I love writing about them. Hope you like reading what I write.
It’s interesting that the only visible product placement in this hacker-thriller from Universal Pictures was a Sony USB Dongle, used to rid a company of a computer virus.
Blackhat is a film by acclaimed director of thrillers, Michael Mann. Its subject is the very relevant cyber-terrorism and stars Chris Hemsworth, Tang Wei and Wang Leehom as three hackers trying to prevent it. It is also a movie that is unfortunately not doing so well commercially.
Like always, I’d prefer to start with the positives.
For one the plot is right up my street. I am really enjoying this current trend of John-Le-Carre-esque espionage thrillers which require your brain to be engaged. And as a first year Computing Student I have a biased love for hacker-heroes.
Speaking of heroes, the aforementioned cast members do a relatively good job in their roles. While the supporting cast occasionally looks like they don’t want to be there and I’d prefer it if not every one of our three leads were so attractive by most people’s standards, those leads seem to know what they’re talking about when the conversations get very jargon-based. And they do in fact give a reason why a computer hacker has the body and fighting skills of Chris Hemsworth.
Fighting brings me onto the third of the major positives of this movie. Michael Mann shot the gunfights here like they were actually happening, in a superb, almost documentary style. This compliments well the decent hand-held nature of this film’s cinematography. What a lot of people don’t know is that guns don’t sound quite the way they do in most movies. I’m happy to report that this film does not conform to that norm.
“Alright, Craig. So is there anything wrong with this movie?” I hear you ask.
Not much, is my answer, but enough to make some note, the keyword, like with most hit-and-miss movies, is “inconsistency”.
I’ve already told you about the superb sound work on the gunfights. However, the quality of audio continuity, volume and dubbing is often awful. Filmmaking 101, your audience will pick up on audio problems before they pick up on anything visually wrong.
The visuals never got as bad as the audio did, though some choices in the cutting room are a little confusing, including the one which allowed placenames to appear in the corner in the last twenty minutes, despite never showing them earlier in the movie.
These problems, alongside a slightly confusing climax, may be the nitpicks of a jealous amateur filmmaker. I do believe that these issues could have come as a result of studio deadlines forcing a situation where the lead editors outnumber the director 4 to 1.
Unfortunately, this does not provide a defence for the out-of-character, dangerous and disturbing love sub-plot between the characters played by Hemsworth and Tang Wei.
Wei plays a strong woman who regularly contributes to solving the problem alongside the other leads. And while the character may have some suppressed sexual complex as a result of having an overbearing brother played by Wang Leehom, why would she fall for an ex-convict Chris Hemsworth so quickly. The fact that he goes along with it makes it doubly creepy.
They have enough chemistry to make the majority of their story plausible, but there appears to be no reason to have to bring sex into the discussion other than the fact that these are two good looking people that the audience want to see in obscure sex scenes.
On the other hand, I have never met Chris Hemsworth, so I don’t know how I’d react to his hammer-of-Thor.
All in all, a mixed bag. But there is some enjoyment to be had here. It is the mark of an unjust society that this movie has barely made one quarter of its $70 Million budget back in its first month in cinemas, while Fifty Shades of Grey has already been greenlit for a sequel in 2016.
Recommended Scenario: When you want to see A Most Wanted Man with a lot more Java.
If what I have written tells you that you would like this film, you can book tickets to see it at your local Cineworld here.