COURTESY PMCVARIETY.FILES.WORDPRESS.COM Chris hemsworth plays in this failed thriller about cybercrime.
COURTESY PMCVARIETY.FILES.WORDPRESS.COM
Chris Hemsworth plays hacker Nicholas Hathaway in this failed thriller about cyber crime.

★☆☆☆☆

Unless you enjoy watching characters without personality robotically follow a senseless plot without thrill, do not watch “Blackhat.” This Michael Mann cyber crime thriller tries to get away with no character development by relying on pure action and excitement, but its sloppy writing makes this movie fit only for the Razzie awards.

The script feels more like a first draft than a finished project, and it’s got more holes than Swiss cheese at times. For instance, the highly touted Blackhat hacker Nicholas Hathaway, played by Chris Hemsworth, solves problems with methods middle school children could come up with. One example of this is when Hathaway hacks into the National Security Agency by sending an NSA supervisor a virus in an email. He then uses the stolen password from the NSA to obtain a computer program that recovers data from hard drives that were physically damaged in the explosion of a nuclear reactor. This is just one absurd example of the lazily written plot that completely distracts from any aesthetic qualities the movie might have.

But even the parts of the script that are not plot holes are not natural or engaging in any way. The movie has very little dialogue to start with, and almost all of it is exposition. In between robotic dialogues Mann tries to throw in a love story between Hemsworth and Wei Tang. All this provides is an additional unnatural plot point necessary to pander to audiences everywhere while making Hemsworth and Tang suffer as actors. The actors really cannot be blamed; in fact, to their credit, Leehom Wang, Tang, and Viola Davis all make the most out of the abysmal dialogues and mechanical script. It after all is not Tang and Hemsworth’s fault that they have to act like they are in love after meeting for the first time and having a two-minute conversation. This love story plays a central role in the plot but is completely forced and all acting goes without any sense of justification. With just random awkward stares with dramatic music being the crux of the romance, their relationship manages to make Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries’ marriage look like a Nicholas Sparks story.

But in addition to this inane love story, the mystery element of the plot is so lacking in creativity and excitement that it would be difficult to muster enough interest to stay for the entire movie. For instance, though I will not spoil the villain’s ‘master plan,’ it is such an unambitious and absurdly illogical plan that it seems more appropriate for an episode of “Phineas and Ferb” than a thriller movie. After building up the villain as an untraceable international threat, it turns out that the villain is not only simple to reach but also adds no original or shocking twist to the mystery. Early on, the movie teases shots of the mastermind without showing his face. Yet instead of preserving this genuine level of foreboding, he is revealed to be a nameless man with no intrigue who has an almost comic look of an attendee at a World of Warcraft convention rather than a powerful cybercriminal.

To add insult to injury, not only is the plot poorly written, it is overdone in the worst possible way. This movie throws in a lot of layers of plot, simply for the sake of having more plot. There really is no purpose to many of the leads the characters follow other than to have the villain prove he is smart and to extend the movie to its unbearably unnecessary two hours and 15 minutes runtime.

While Mann generally stays away from any character development, at some points he tries to throw in small pieces of backstory. To Hemsworth’s credit, he takes advantage of the small pieces of character growth given and probably is the only person who saves this movie from going down among the all time worst. However, the bulk of what Mann includes is throw-in, half-formed attempts at character development. These rare glimpses are really just brief, off topic lines, like when U.S. Federal Marshal Donahue randomly refers to 9/11. None of these handfuls of lines contain enough story to invoke interest or emotion; they simply add useless facts of backstory to characters who are otherwise shells of human beings.

While there are some pieces of cinematography that Mann executes decently, the movie has strange and inconsistent audio and ineffectively-filmed scenes. One strange instance of a misfire is when Mann pointlessly shows CGI footage of electrons moving through fiber optic cables for far too often and far too long. The audio surges in awkward moments, and there is even a scene between Chinese actors in which the audio looks strangely dubbed.

Ultimately, this is only the icing on the cake of an abysmal misfire by Mann. This is not worth spending two hours on and is unfortunately the type of movie that should get Legendary Pictures employees fired.

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