Posted Oct 28 2015

Blackhat - This Mann Movie Just About Rocks

Dir: Michael Mann

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Mei Tang, Viola Davis, Leehom Wang

It’s been six years since Michel Man last set celluloid foot on screen. So expectations were high. The fact that Blackhat doesn’t fully deliver prime Mann shouldn’t overshadow the fact that there is still a lot to appreciate and enjoy here.

First off is the big challenge – it’s a computer movie. So was The Net. And whilst the world of all things computing has moved on dramatically since that mid-‘90s Sandy Bullock pot-boiler, showing it on screen hasn’t. Mann makes a brave stab at it, using CGI to move through the cables and beneath the keyboards. But it’s still people typing and CGI cables, so this aspect is probably the least successful element of his international contemporary hacker thriller.

Thor takes his shirt off - a lot (obviously a contractual obligation) as he globe trots in search of a master hacker determined to make a lot of money off of some tin mines. Through his journeys Mann captures his environments (as is his want of late) spectacularly using state of the art digital photography (lensed here to perfection by Stuart Dryburgh, last seen being very effective on Stiller’s Mitty.) Mann and his DP invest so much of their film in capturing their own unique, precisely lit often neo-noir visions of Hong Kong, Jakarta and more, that his film often takes on an almost dreamlike night-haunting quality. Especially when it erupts into genuinely brutal and savage violence. Fans of the director will be pleased to know there’s at least one machine gun stand-off here – underground this time. But a game changing moment about two thirds in is both unexpected (although probably not now we’ve mentioned it. Damn!) and is as good a sequence as the Mann has ever made.

Plot wise though it is dense and, despite what at times feels like yards of Basil Exposition, often impenetrable. (File next to Miami Vice.) But even in a film that underwhelms – whether that was the intention or not – Mann is always worth watching.

Not the filmmaker firing on all cylinders. But still firing on more than most.


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