“Blackhat” is the latest effort from director Michael Mann whose last film was 2009’s gangster drama, “Public Enemies.” While Mann continues to be a director of great visual style, he might’ve needed more time to work on a film that is not out of his league.
Chris Hemsworth stars as Nick Hathaway, a prisoner serving time for being a computer hacker. He’s called on by the National Security Agency to help stop a series of international criminals who devise their plans by using computers themselves. Just think of this as “The Silence of the Lambs” for the cyber-terrorism age.
Viola Davis costars as an NSA agent who promises that he will be furloughed for his efforts, but as we all know in a movie of this sort, the offer always is negotiable.
Mann once again utilizes his digital cinematography to great effect here, and some scenes benefit highly because of it. They also add a lot in terms of atmosphere, suspense and attention to detail.
The problem with the movie is the script. It relies too much on being heavily convoluted or clichéd at all the convenient moments. For example, there’s a romantic subplot involving Hathaway and his female partner falling for one another in the middle of the ordeal; we pretty much know how that is going to turn out.
Mann, whose best films are “Heat” and “Collateral,” knows how to make a movie of this sort. Some scenes seem like they’re trying to evoke the gritty realism of previous Mann films, but it seems more like he’s stepped out of his comfort zone at the same time. I can’t quite recommend “Blackhat,” but it comes close.
Rated R for violence and some language.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.