Chris Hemsworth heads up Michael Mann's disappointing cyber-crime thriller
With a plot that couldn't be more timely, Michael Mann's latest thriller tackles the subject of computer hacking. However, while there's some fun to be had in the urgent, explosive action sequences, Mann's characteristic style can't conceal the screenplay's lack of substance.
Chris Hemsworth plays Nicholas Hathaway, a computing genius currently languishing in an American prison. When a deadly cyber-attack on the Chai Wan nuclear power plant forces the FBI and the Chinese government to work together, Chinese military officer Dawai Chen (Leehom Wang) insists that Hathaway be given leave from jail to help them crack the case, since part of his code was used in the attack.
Hathaway joins a team that includes FBI agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) and Dawai's sister Lien (Wei Tang) and together they follow a trail that takes them to Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Jakarta in pursuit of a mysterious cyber-criminal – the black hat of the title.
Mann shows that he can still deliver the goods when it comes to an urban gun battle and the ultra-loud shoot-outs here are executed in a way that can't help but remind you of Heat. Although it suffers by comparison to his earlier work, Blackhat benefits from Mann's singular slickness, with plenty of gleaming surfaces and gliding vehicles.
Such gloss is presumably designed to distract you from a story that's utter rubbish: whether it's the frequently shirtless Hemsworth as the world's sexiest hacker, his character's implausible mid-mission hook-up with Lien, the fact that he hardly does any actual hacking, or the ultimate nature of the dastardly scheme. And Blackhat might appear ultra modern but it feels desperately dated, it's as if Mann has dusted off a cheesy straight-to-video thriller from the 90s and just jazzed it up a bit.
General release from Fri 20 Feb.