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Blackhat Review


The problem with being Michael Mann is that everything you do is going to be compared to everything you've already done, and when your back catalogue includes Heat, Public Enemies, Manhunter and The Insider, you find yourself with pretty big shoes to fill with each new feature. So it goes with Blackhat, a cyber-crime thriller that has more in common with vintage Mann than first glance would have you believe.

Chris Hemsworth plays Nick Hathaway, an impossibly chiseled computer hacker, serving a lengthy sentence for a caper gone wrong. After a cyber attack on a Nuclear power plant and a high profile theft from an online market, his help is enlisted by Chinese and US agents Chen Dawai and Carol Barrett (Wang Leehom and Viola Davis respectively) to trace the source of the attacks and earn himself a reprieve from his prison sentence.

Laden with tech heavy dialogue and far more lethargic scenes of keyboards being pummeled than is completely necessary in a thriller, Blackhat has it's share of problems. Chief among these is the casting of Hemsworth as the gifted coder. It's not that he's particularly bad; it's just that he's not believable in the role he's given, nor is he the typical everyman that Mann usually finds to steer his projects through. It's hard to identify with a character that isn't only miles smarter than you, but that also happens to have the physique of a norse god.

As usual, Mann tries to keep his movie grounded in reality, but is smart enough to know that his audience are here for an adrenaline rush as much as a lesson in C++ or Java. Blackhat is punctuated by short bursts of frenetic action, whether it be bruising, brutal encounters on their globehopping quest to track down the baddie, or deafening, spectacular exchanges of gunfire. The intensity never completely dies off, and the movie ebbs and flows from one great action scene to the next.

Shot entirely on hi-def digital video, Blackhat looks incredible, and is crammed full of Mann favourites; beautifully lit night skies, cat and mouse encounters on trains, cars and choppers, and humid, neon-lit streets. The same format that makes full use of the murky darkness leads to some uneven performance with the audio track but its a minor niggle when compared with the whole.

Mann has delivered another polished, balanced thriller, dripping in atmosphere and delivering some piercing jabs of action and suspense. Blackhat may have its flaws, but the main problem it seems to be dogged with is being held up against previous Mann masterpieces. Taken on it's own merits, Blackhat is a never-less-than engaging thriller, and one that shows touches of the flourishes that remind us just why Mann's work is as respected and revered as it is.

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The Movie Bit: Blackhat Review
Blackhat Review
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