‘Blackhat’ Review: Hacking is Not Cool

Posted in The Screening Room by - January 18, 2015

Blackhat is a perfectly adequate film, which is the best thing I can say about it. Chris Hemsworth’s performance is fine, if uninteresting, and the rest of the characters are given very little depth, other than Captain Chen Dawai (Wang Lehom), who is interesting solely because he represents both Chinese and American interests. The film doesn’t look particularly striking and lacks a certain crispness to it. The villain’s motivations are set up to be something interesting, but ultimately, it ends up being all about dollars.

The film follows the exploits of recently furloughed hacker, Holloway (played by Chris Hemsworth), as he joins the FBI and a Chinese Liason, who also happens to be his ex roommate from their MIT days, and his sister, who’s mostly there for moral support (Seriously, she does nothing of significance in the film until the last act, unless you consider portraying an arguably unnecessary love interest as significant), as they track down a cyber terrorist who caused a meltdown in a Chinese reactor followed by an equally villainous action of jacking up Soy prices. What a dastardly heathen!  

For a film about hacking, it doesn’t really make you care about hacking. Yes, I get it, Hathaway is suave and smart, but by the final act, he’s essentially transformed into John McClane, Jr. I’ll give credit to the film for not leaving too many plot holes, and it actually makes the FBI and NSA seem relatively competent and responsive; however, there are a few scenes that just make you scratch your head. For example, why would an FBI raid bring along an unarmed and untrained hacker as they ransack a suspect’s home? Also, the film is incredibly predictable. You know how interactions between characters will end within seconds of them crossing paths, mainly due to the lack of depth given to any of them, and the finale completely ignores the political element of the film that the premise is based on. 

Michael Mann has made plenty of great films in the past, but Blackhat lacks any ambition or attempt at doing something new with the medium. Given it’s lackluster characters and story, it really has nothing to hang its (black)hat on. Hacking is cool, maybe? With the recent Sony hack, there is a semblance of relevancy to the subject matter, but it’s more coincidental than anything resembling a viable stance on the subject. Blackhat is the ultimate “meh” film, not offensively terrible but not particularly interesting either.

Final Say: Skip It

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He's a native Texan (YEE-HAW) who loves everything Michael Bay has ever touched. When he's not blogging, he's working on his mobile app, BoxHopp, or tinkering with his fantasy football lineups.
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