The finest computer hackers in Hollywood always seem to have a safety net when they get the handcuffs slapped on them. At some point, the government is probably going to require their services. Michael Mann’s latest movie Blackhat is a crook-out-the-box crime caper with a not-so-refreshing cyber-twist.
Chris Hemsworth – who quickly secured his place in Hollywood by adopting the rebooted role of Captain Kirk and Marvel superhero Thor – stars as the stony-faced, sandy-blonde computer criminal Nicholas Hathaway, a man released from prison to assist sweating government officials in apprehending some malicious hackers. Things spiral out of control as Hathaway scampers from point-to-point trying to solve the cyber-riddle, waving his fingers at screens or a gun in the air, depending on where is he at the time.
Michael Mann has showcased his ability to crank up the crime tension and rattle bullets across the screen with aplomb – none more so than with his 1995 classic Heat – and whilst he’s clearly intrigued by his own project, it seems unlikely that audiences will be. Mann opts for heavy use of the hand-held camera to create a visceral, authentic feel, but in a movie about computer hacking this merely serves to distract rather than engage. The camera wobbles above a glut of glowing screens and fizzing bullets for two hours plus, ultimately it amounting to a nauseating experience.
Chris Hemsworth doesn’t do anything wrong, playing his crook with the kind of conviction everyone expects from an actor who seems to have so effortlessly slipped into two enormous Hollywood roles. But as Mann’s camera bounces around like a peppercorn in a grinder – even when characters are doing as little as gesturing toward monitors – the movie’s star is left to flounder helplessly against a blurry backdrop that doesn’t complement its source material or script in the slightest.
As the world of computer technology mercilessly hurtles forward, it seems inevitable that the cyber-thriller genre will continue to grow and develop. What can be said for Blackhat is that it represents a bit of a different angle on this kind of movie. Unfortunately, whilst there are a few nicely-executed moments of tension, it’s not an angle that really works. The movie may be a little more fun than cranking up a computer monitor’s screen glare and spinning around on a desk chair, but it still has the same dizzying effects.
Blackhat was released nationwide on 20th February 2015.
Watch the trailer for Blackhat here: