Blackhat

by Michael Cox

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday May 26, 2015

In "Blackhat," sexy Australian actor Chris Hemsworth teams up with the detailed director Michael Mann ("Heat," "Collateral," and "The Insider") in a paranoiac examination of global cybercrime. A black hat being the epitome of what the public fears when they hear the word "hacker," one who violates the security of computer networks for nefarious reasons.

The Chinese government and the FBI come together when such a hacker causes a nuclear plant to explode in Hong Kong and soy futures to rise on the US Mercantile Trade Exchange. A Remote Access Tool (RAT) was responsible for these breaches and the code in the RAT turns out to be stolen from both an officer in China's cyber warfare unit, Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) and a his former roommate from MIT.

While Dawai has become a captain in his country's military, his college roommate, Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), is serving time in prison. Making a special deal with the US government, Dawai enlists Hathaway's help to track down the hacker, along with Agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) of the FBI and his sister Chen Lien (Tang Wei).

When they retrieve a data drive from the nuclear power plant with information that could lead them to the black hat, Hathaway finds that he needs a tool from the NSA to reconstruct the corrupted files, but the US government is unwilling to cooperate. So Hathaway hacks into the NSA.

The authentic locations and the enormous crowd sequences, the high frame rate fight sequences and the camera that makes you feel as though you are right in the midst of the action -- these make the film worthy of a second look.

Eventually Hathaway discovers that all the damage done up to that point was only preparation for a colossal cybercrime event that is about to come.

"Blackhat" didn't do very well at the box office. The characters are archetypical and the plot is boilerplate. There are sequences of nothing but animated data passing through computers, and there's an awful lot of footage of people sitting in front of computers and talking about code. Nevertheless, elements of this film are extraordinary. The authentic locations and the enormous crowd sequences, the high frame rate fight sequences and the camera that makes you feel as though you are right in the midst of the action -- these make the film worthy of a second look.

There are three special features on the Blu-ray that provide a particular insight into the making of this movie. In "The Cyber Threat," Michael Mann and the cast talk with the consultant Christopher McKinley about the genesis and creation of the film. (McKinley is the hacker famous for breaking into an online dating site in order to make his profile the most popular.) "On Location Around the World" and "Creating Reality" also help the viewer to understand the tremendous effort that went into this project.


"Blackhat"
Blu-ray + DVD
Rated R / 2 hr. 14 min.
www.BlackhatTheMovie.com

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