Overview: Chris Hemsworth plays a convicted hacker who embarks on a globetrotting cat-and-mouse game to help the United States and Chinese governments track down the man responsible for a fatal attack in Hong Kong. Universal Pictures, 2014, rated R, 133 minutes.
Speaking Another Language: I’m usually a fan of Michael Mann’s moody, morally ambiguous crime dramas that blur the line between the good guys and the bad. I enjoyed Miami Vice, I loved Heat, and I thought Collateral was a hell of a ride, but I almost walked out of the theater during Blackhat. The first half of this movie watches like a foreign film without subtitles, and halfway through it abruptly transforms into a ruthless, blood soaked revenge conquest. Both halves are void of an intelligent script, any spark of connection between the audience and the characters or the plot.
Hacker terminology is thrown around from the opening scene, alternating at top speed with a flurry of subtitles, combining to form conversations that are nearly impossible to follow for the average viewer, say someone who doesn’t already know what the word “blackhat” means or what an RAT is. Mann makes half-hearted efforts to compensate for the lack of depth and connection by tossing in shallow friendships and romances without bothering to provide enough emotion for audience investment. A few out of place 9/11 references and a piss poor sex scene aren’t enough to make anyone care when it all falls apart.
Hollow Hacking: Chris Hemsworth does more acting in the trailer for In the Heart of the Sea than in the entirety of the two plus hours he’s on screen in Blackhat. He’s completely miscast as one of the world’s best hackers turned sudden vigilante, and he delivers his lines with less conviction than his keystrokes. His disinterest creates an even larger gap between the audience and the film itself that can never quite be bridged. But surely Viola Davis makes this disjointed mess worth the watch, right? Wrong. The clunky direction and poor writing leaves even her with little to do, and it’s evident that she doesn’t think it’s worth the effort to deliver the snark and sharp intensity she normally exudes in every performance.
Final Thoughts: It’s still early in the year, but Blackhat’s careless, convoluted script and lazy performances could easily earn it a spot on the list of worst movies of 2015.