Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Blackhat (R/133 Min.)




I am sitting here trying to think of a way to start my review of Blackhat and I’ve already hit a wall.  A couple days ago I asked my cousin if she wanted to go to the pre-screening with me.  She asked what it was about.  “Thor is a computer hacker dude or something like that.  I think it’s action-y or thriller-y,” was my response.  She didn’t even question my mention of Thor.  We’re cool like that.  As for the rest, I try not to watch trailers because they completely ruin movies so I didn’t really know what this was going to be about.  I did watch the trailer after I got home last night and, even knowing how it actually was, I decided that I still would have gone to see this film based on the trailer alone.  Darn trailers.  

In Blackhat, Chris Hemsworth is Nicholas Hathaway, a hacker who has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for hacking a bank…or four.  When another hacker uses his powers for evil and blows up a power plant in China and then messes with the US stock market, Nick is temporarily released to hunt him down.

Though I didn’t see the trailer, I heard enough buzz about the movie to know that Nick was going to be released so my initial question was whether or not he was really the only hacker in the entire world who could save the day.  The movie does actually explain why only he could do it but I still think some other uber-experienced hacker could have done the job.  But, then again, I know only enough “computer” to make it through my normal office work day.  Maybe I’m wrong.  And, if someone else could have done it, the movie would’ve been completely different.  Also, I’m willing to bet that China won’t be too pleased that we made their computer systems look way weaker than those in the US.

Okay, I’ve decided to try to say a few good things about this film.  First…Chris Hemsworth.  I believe the movie peeps think that he alone will give them the opening weekend box office take they’re hoping for.  This morning when I told a co-worker about the movie, she asked if he took his shirt off.  I actually had to think about it but, yes, he did.  That should get some butts in the theater seats.  Second, I loved the city shots in China.  I don’t remember exactly what city they were in but I can’t even imagine living in a place that jam-packed with buildings and people.  Oklahoma City is a tad more spread out.  It was fascinating to see though.

The acting was so dry through most of the film that I’m only going to talk about a few of the actors/characters.  Let’s start with Chris.  What on earth was with his accent?  It’s like he went to the Sylvester Stallone School of Speaking.  It was not easy on the ears.  And his hacking scenes were lacking.  Hacka-lackin’?  Anyway, I’ve seen other movies in which the hack scenes are fun to watch because they get so intense.  He types for a few seconds and voila!  I just really didn’t believe it.  And he supposedly went to prison because of hacking banks but he has all these cool fight moves that might possibly have been explained in one of the scenes but a past bar fight and time in prison do not a Jason Statham make.

Wang Leehom is Chen Dawai, a friend of Nick’s from MIT.  It is by his request that Nick is released from prison.  Leehom does a passable job but wasn’t given much of a chance to shine.  Even when he tries to argue for a cause, he just doesn’t seem invested.

Tang Wei is Lien Chen, Chen Dawai’s sister and Nick’s girlfriend.  She did show some emotion on occasion but, for the most part, was a lot like her brother.  She and Chris have a completely unnecessary sex scene.  It felt…awkward.  Not in the I’m-watching-two-people-have-sex sense but in the we-need-sex-to-bring-in-the-female-viewers-but-we-don’t-know-where-to-put-the-scene-so-let’s-just-stick-it-here sense.  If we knew that they’d been together before he went to prison then it would make absolute sense.  But!!! They made a point of mentioning that she’d only seen him in pictures her brother showed her.  It just didn’t fit.  

Moving on.  I gave you the positives earlier so now it’s time for the negatives.  I feel I should warn you that if you go see Blackhat you might want to avoid the front section of the theater altogether.  The opening scene will mess with your eyes.  It’s like one of those movies where they make you feel like you’re flying and they soar you up and down, over and around mountains and such.  It was a tad dizzying.  They also did the shaky camera thing throughout the film to make you feel as if you were running with the characters instead of just watching them run or as if you were actually participating in a fight.  I’m not sure who decided this was a good idea but it did get hard to follow at times.  During one chase scene it looked like the characters were chasing the camera man.  And then he’d jump behind and starting chasing them.  

The sound was wonky in one of the prison scenes.  A line of subtitle was missing when Chen Dawai was yelling at the Chinese Major.  Unless it really did take him that long to say the word “Major!”  During an aerial shot when Nick and Lien drive to the middle of nowhere Malaysia, on the left side of the screen you can see a reflection from inside the cockpit of whatever they camera people were filming in.  Apparently, Indonesian and Chinese hotels use the same kind of window décor.  There was a blatant shout out for Android phones.  Nick is a tall, blonde man and the movie peeps act like he blends in with the inhabitants of China, Indonesia and Malaysia.  Not so much.  My cousin pointed out the oh-so-masculine doilies on the back of the chairs in a scene in the conference room in China.  Either they were odd enough or the movie was slow enough that they were distracting.  And, finally, I believe that Nick’s tracking anklet switched ankles a couple times but I’m not going to swear to that.

My favorite part of the entire movie was the unintended laughter by the entire audience during a death scene.  The reason for the laughter is that the death was so unexpected and happened to such a well-liked character that many people in the audience gasped, inciting laughter from everyone else.  I thought another death scene was pretty interesting.  Not because people died but because we got to see the damage a claymore causes.  I saw the bad guy set it and then I sat in my seat and cringed; waiting for the BOOM!  That does not look like a fun way to die.

As this review is progressively becoming longer than the movie, let’s move on to why this movie is rated R.  

Sex/Nudity – Yes to sex.  No to nudity.  Unless you count Chris’s naked chest.

Drinking/Drugs/Smoking – A little drinking and smoking and I’m not quite sure what was being smoked in the Malaysian market scene.

Cussing/Swearing – It was kept to a minimum.  I counted maybe 6 altogether.  They were doing so good staying away from the F-bomb and then hit it twice in the same scene closer to the end.  It could’ve been a lot worse though.

Violence – Definitely.  A couple of the deaths were difficult to stomach.  One guy had a piercing headache and another guy didn’t just get stabbed; he got STABBED!!!  Two of the deaths showed the pool of blood forming around the body.  It was not pleasant, but, then again, it shouldn’t be.

I would not recommend this for young children.  The deaths are just gross.  If you like Michael Mann’s other films then you’ll probably like this.  If you’re looking for a cool hacker movie, this is not your best bet.  If you’re going just to see Chris Hemsworth then probably nothing I say will sway you.  I will not watch this movie again and don’t really know who else I would recommend it to.  To those of you who are going to send me nasty comments, please note that this may just not have been my bag.  I like cyber thrillers but this just didn’t seem to hit the mark.

P.S.  We did go ahead and stay through the credits but there was nothing else to see. 

1 comment:

Squirrelly said...

I think your criticism was fair. I really enjoyed 'Blackhat.'