Hollywood Product: Blackhat

Michael Mann's cyber thriller is a hack job

Sunday January 11, 2015 01:00 am EST

GENRE: Cyber thriller

THE PITCH: After a cyber attack cripples a nuclear reactor in China, People’s Liberation Army captain, Chen Dawai (Wang Leehom) seeks help finding the persons responsible by recruiting the aid of his network security expert sister Lien (Tang Wei); an FBI liaison, Special Agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis), and incarcerated hacker Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth).

MONEY SHOT: Nick and Lien attempt to make contact with a potential lead in the network of hackers they uncovered. It doesn’t take long before Nick realizes it is a set up. When the two try to leave they are greeted by a group of well-armed thugs. Without missing a beat, Nick doles out a little bit of prison kickass against the Asian gang.

BEST LINE: Nick logs into a computer while on the trail of the hacker. A quick exchange of typed words angers Nick. Frustrated, Nick types, “Do you know who I am, this is GhostMan!” The hacker replies, “Who gives a fuck, suck a dick and die!”

WORST LINE: A U.S. Marshall attempts to broker terms for Nick’s furlough. Things quickly break down and Nick is completely obstinate and snarky. The man apologizes and Nick asks, “Why are you sorry. I insulted you, why are you sorry?”

SO WHAT IS A BLACKHAT ANYWAY? According to Techopedia, A black hat hacker is someone who attempts to find computer security vulnerabilities and exploit them for personal financial gain or other malicious reasons. There are also white hats, those who hack to find the security flaws black hats exploit; and grey hats, hackers that find flaws and notify companies to fix the problems for a fee.


WHAT WERE THEY CELEBRATING IN JAKARTA? Well it was probably Galungan Day. The holiday symbolizes the victory of good (Dharma) over evil (Adharma). Mann recreated the traditional celebration at the West Irian Liberation Monument in Lapangan Banteng that depicts a man breaking the shackles of Dutch colonialism.

NUMBER OF CYBER ATTACKS AGAINST THE U.S. INFRASTRUCTURE – Over 20 million. Both the Pentagon and the National Nuclear Security Administration report 10 million attacks each daily.

BOTTOM LINE: A sophomoric script and an outdated perspective essentially doom this cyber thriller. Neophyte writer, Morgan Davis Foehl’s story is both cumbersome and slow. How he moves his characters around the chessboard feels like a dumpster dive of clichéd and simplistic tropes. Foehl adds so many characters in this fox-and-hound chase, it simples causes irritating static and creates an unnecessary lag in the story. Pair this with director Michael Mann’s hackneyed interpretation of Foehl’s script, his weirdly cobbled “Hacking for dummies” moments, and his outdated cops-and-robbers shtick and you get more problems than interest in the topical film. Blackhat is flagrantly flawed on so many levels and offers very little to the audience, I wish I could CONT+ALT+DELETE this goose from my memory.

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