There is so much wrong with Blackhat. I hated the hyper-real camera work with a passion. I hated the gratuitous graphic violence in the action scenes. I hated the climax of the film (near the end). I was disappointed in the way a film that deals with a very real and serious subject in a supposedly serious and realistic way had so many contrived and less than credible plot elements. No surprise then, that Blackhat was basically panned by critics.
And yet … I loved the score by Harry Gregson-Williams. When the score is a film’s best feature, it’s a bit worrying, but it’s better than nothing. I also love the way director (Michael Mann) pauses for breath in his films, often giving us beautiful scenes as he does so (if only the camera work was better). In this case, Mann also gives us exotic locations like Hong Kong and Jakarta. While the acting by Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis and Wei Tang wasn’t outstanding, it was competent enough. Best of all, I like the fact that Blackhat is a 133-minute thriller with less than 15 minutes of action. That’s my kind of action film, especially if there’s intelligent thought-provoking dialogue going on in the meantime (though there wasn’t enough of that).
What is Blackhat about? There’s a cyber-criminal doing some very bad things. He’s so good at his badness that super-hacker Nick Hathaway (Hemsworth) is freed from a long prison sentence (though with an ankle bracelet to monitor his whereabouts) to help track down the criminal in question. China is involved, so a sister-brother team from China works with Hathaway (Tang and Leehom Wang), as does FBI agent Barrett (Davis). The team makes better progress than they deserve, but not without some nasty losses.
In the end, I’m giving Blackhat *** for holding my attention for 133 minutes of horrible camera work, for its very current theme and for limiting the action. My mug is up, but don’t expect too much flavour from what’s inside.