For my 100th post on this site, I figured I'd review a prestigious and memorable film. Unfortunately, I watched Blackhat and will be reviewing that instead.
After a hacker attacks a nuclear power plant in Hong Kong, shutting down the coolant system and causing an explosion, the FBI and Chinese government work together to try and figure out who caused the attack, why and where the next attack will be. Captain Dawai (Leehom Wang) and his computer-savvy sister, Chen Lien (Tang Wei) work in conjunction with FBI Agents Jessup (Holt McCallany) and Barrett (Viola Davis). Dawai realizes that the code used was co-written by former hacker turned prisoner Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth).
Like most films that need a criminal, Hathaway is released into custody of the FBI in an attempt to thwart the hacker. After a second attack that causes soy futures to rise, Hathaway and Chen begin to have romantic feelings for one another, against the wishes of Dawai. Globe-trotting from the United States, to Hong Kong and Jakarta, the Chinese and Americans try to play catch-up and also figure out what is going on.
Director Michael Mann continues his post-2004 slump with a movie that will surely be forgotten by, well... it probably is already forgotten. Dating back to Miami Vice, the director has struggled to provide the audience with a film that is engaging and full of rich characters. With the exception of making Hong Kong an amazing place to look at, it feels that Michael Mann has lost his edge about making the type of film he used to be able to do in his sleep.
Chris Hemsworth is horribly miscast, using all the charisma that he puts into every role and discarding it in favor of being bland and boring. The relationship that (quickly) forms between Hathaway and Chen does not feel natural, and comes across as more of a reason to shoehorn and love story into what should have otherwise been a straight-forward thriller. Neither actor has any chemistry with one another and the romantic subplot drags down the film.
Not to say that the rest of the film is great by any means. Watching the characters stare at computer screens, along with the audience staring at computer screens, we are told what is going on instead of going along for the journey. Watching someone type away or looking at movie-version of computer code is not what I would call an entertaining time.
Even though Michael Mann still has a keep eye for shooting a city and continuing the look of neo-noir, his issues are now coming up with a good script to go along with his eyes. Blackhat is not a total failure, but it certainly isn't a return to form either.