Saturday, January 17, 2015

Blackhat (2015) Review:

For a large part of his career up until now, Australian actor Chris Hemsworth has been riding the successful road in the realm of Hollywood movies. After finding success in Marvel's Thor (2011), The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013) and critically acclaimed Rush (2013), it seemed as if there wasn't a role Hemsworth couldn't pull off that people didn't enjoy. But in everyone's success story there are always slips and mistakes along the way. This movie highlights one of Hemsworth's errors. One of the more surprising things though is that it's not just Hemsworth's mistake either. There are a lot of mistakes that belong to several other professionals that have proven before they are better than this. Most notably, this belongs to director Michael Mann.

Chris Hemsworth & Wei Tang (background)
Although not a mainstream director of popular movies, Michael Mann has produced a number of films that people recollect as being highly entertaining. The Last of the Mohicans (1992) and Heat (1995) to name a couple are of his most well respected films he has directed. This however is a totally different problem. The story to this movie is about a cyber-hacker AKA a "Blackhat" working its way into certain country's government systems and using whatever they can manipulate for personal gain. After first being sited when it activates a nuclear meltdown in China, Chinese Computer Security Agent Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) and his sister Chen Lien (Wei Tang) ask for Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), a convicted hacker and friend of Chen Dawai to help them figure out who's behind the cyber-hacking. However, because Hathaway is a convicted felon, Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) and another guard comes along to make sure Hathaway doesn’t leave the project.

As a story, the concept and premise is compelling. In an age where digital information is recorded and stored in private databases in a central processing unit, hacking is a contemporary issue that results in many people's cyber issues related to either social media profiles, personal email accounts or leaked footage (that the movie companies can't seem to handle yet). But aside from this, the execution isn't cleaned up. Of the cast, only three actors will make any kind of impression on its audience and that belongs to Leehom Wang, Wei Tang and Viola Davis. The characters they portray at least have some existence of humanity in them and carry a bit of charm to their personality. Chris Hemsworth on the other hand is about as dry old provolone cheese with not one sarcastic statement sounding the least bit humorous. Sadly, this is the least of the film’s crimes because there's more to discuss.

The villain in this movie is unknown. His name isn't mentioned once and trying to find the cast member name without a proper picture doesn't help. His performance wasn't worth much either. As for characters on an individual basis, from thread to thread it’s incredibly cliche and predictable. Does it even need to be said what'll happen when a best friend meets his best friend's sister? Adding to it is that these particular subplots weren't needed. It didn't develop the characters in any unique fashion. And with that, the result ends up being a 2-hour snooze fest of stuff viewers have already seen. These flaws are quite vivid when looking at the writer Morgan Davis Foehl, who's prior positions belong to film productions as an assistant editor. That's not a good sign and why didn't Foehl edit this picture? Apparently the four editors to this film did barely anything.

Viola Davis
The only other minuscule plus to this movie is that there are shootouts and fights. However even they are not particularly entertaining because cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh couldn't keep the camera still for hardly any scene he filmed. There are some scenes that involve no motion at all and Dryburgh still manages to have the camera shake. Why? Does it create realism? Kind of but it makes the movie feel more like a found footage genre movie than a cinematic traditional thriller. The music is another mixed bag. Harry Gregson-Williams worked with two other composers; Atticus Ross and Leopold Ross. However according to Williams almost none of his work was put in the movie. So for that I cannot say anything about him but for the Ross brothers (if that is their work), the music they produced isn't the least bit inviting. Much the music consists of deep bass synths and dense percussion that don't really appeal to anything that goes on through the movie. Williams’ music would probably been more appropriate considering his past work involves much more of a hybrid mix between synths and orchestra. Some much was wrong here.

It has some ok action scenes, a few good performances and has an interesting premise that pertains to today's culture but fails to be clever in any way in its execution. The story is badly written with cliche character threads, very slow pacing, a dull showing by Chris Hemsworth and unappealing music.

Points Earned --> 4:10


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