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Review: Blackhat

Blackhat
01.15.2015
8 10
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PLOT: A hacker (Chris Hemsworth) serving a fifteen-year prison term is offered a chance at freedom if he joins a international task force looking to take down a cadre of cyber terrorists who caused a reactor meltdown in China.

REVIEW: Forget what you've heard – BLACKHAT is not a January movie. While the name Michael Mann probably sets the bar too high for what BLACKHAT ultimately is, the fact remains that it's a thoroughly entertaining international thriller and something of a return to form for Mann – whose PUBLIC ENEMIES took it on the chin from many of his devotees and critics.

Chris Hemsworth blackhat

Being concerned with cyber-terrorism, this is nothing if not timely. What just happened with Sony should be enough to make people realize just how vulnerable we are to such an attack and that's a fear BLACKHAT exploits early and often, with Hemsworth's Hathaway doing things on the computer that defy explanation (although the script by Morgan Davis Foehl tries) making him only somewhat less invulnerable than THOR. Thank god he's playing one of the good guys.

While it maybe takes a little suspension of disbelief to believe that the hulking Hemsworth could be such a brilliant hacker and also just happen to be a natural with any kind of weapon, from a handgun, to a sharpened flathead screwdriver, this isn't uncommon for Mann. He's always had a thing for stylish, good-looking heroes, from Don Johnson's Sonny Crocket, to William Petersen's Will Graham, through Al Pacino and Robert De Niro's immaculately attired cop and thief from HEAT and so on. That's just part of Mann's world and heck, I'm not complaining. Mann is just about my favorite director (THIEF is my all-time favorite of his) and when you buy a ticket to one of his movies you should expect heightened reality. After all, isn't that more fun?

All the Mann hallmarks are here. While at 135 minutes BLACKHAT does occasionally drag (mostly in the first half) the good more than outweighs the bad. As usual for Mann, the action scenes are impeccable, from two extremely violent shootouts, to a few incredibly brutal hand-to-hand scraps prison brawler Hemsworth finds himself in when on the trail of his hacking adversary. Everything is brilliantly shot, with Mann shooting for the first time completely in digital, mixing low-grade hand-held stuff – getting right in there when Hemsworth takes a beer bottle to a baddie's face – to more sophisticated anamorphic shots. Using his LUCK cinematographer, Stuart Dryburgh, BLACKHAT has an epic, international feel, with memorable location shooting in Hong Kong and Jakarta.

Chris Hemsworth blackhat

Hemsworth seems well up to the task of headlining a Mann-movie, having the requisite toughness mixed with vulnerability, and it's interesting to see him mix-it-up in a hard R-rated actioner, with this being a far cry from THOR or SNOW WHITE & THE HUNTSMAN. Tang Wei (of Ang Lee's LUST, CAUTION) makes for a memorable romantic partner for Hemsworth. They have good chemistry, with Wei doing a solid enough job with the English dialogue. They also look fabulous together – which is a given. One of the big surprises here is how well Viola Davis fits into the Mann-universe, with her effortlessly spouting off the hardboiled dialogue, to the point that it really feels like Davis could headline a Mann-vehicle. She's that good. Taiwanese-star Wang Leehom doesn't fare quite as well, with him playing a pretty generic, uninteresting part. The same goes for Holt McCallany as the U.S Marshall tasked with keeping on eye on Hemsworth. He's portrayed as way too lunkeaded, and the way Hemsworth gets around his ankle bracelet monitoring early-on is groan-worthy.

Mann is known as a perfectionist, which is why it's surprising that a few things seem a little off with BLACKHAT, specifically some of the ADR looping, with lips often not match up with the words spoken (were parts rewritten after principal photography?). Wang's scenes with his Chinese supervisors are really poorly dubbed, even though the dialogue is delivered in Mandarin. One wonders if they ran afoul of the local censors and had to change these exchanges.

However, one thing that is absolutely perfect is Mann's use of music, despite all the controversy surrounding Harry Gregson-Williams semi-rejected score. Gregson-Williams still carries a screen credit (with Atticus Ross) and regardless of who's responsible for what I was hearing, the music was perfect and very Michael Mann-y.

While BLACKHAT is obviously not top-tier Mann, at times it comes close enough and a slightly diminished Mann is still better than just about everybody else. While I wouldn't be surprised if the famously finicky Mann ends up tinkering with the film a little more before it hits Blu-ray (as he did with pretty much all of his movies except PUBLIC ENEMIES) BLACKHAT is still slick-as-hell, and a rock-solid action thriller. Forget TAKEN 3. This is the real deal.

CLICK IMAGE TO OPEN GALLERY & SEE MORE PICS...

Source: JoBlo.com

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8:53AM on 05/01/2015
Just saw it. I don't know man, the movie was pretty fuckin' kick ass. Hemsworth is believable and I hope he does another with Mann soon. In reply to someone below me Hem's character had a relationship with that guy's sister previous to him being incarcerated. So let's say the script probably had its issues, but watching a Mann film is incredibly enjoyable. The guy finely crafts his films; from editing to music to cinematography, people should be taking notes.
Just saw it. I don't know man, the movie was pretty fuckin' kick ass. Hemsworth is believable and I hope he does another with Mann soon. In reply to someone below me Hem's character had a relationship with that guy's sister previous to him being incarcerated. So let's say the script probably had its issues, but watching a Mann film is incredibly enjoyable. The guy finely crafts his films; from editing to music to cinematography, people should be taking notes.
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3:09AM on 01/18/2015

2/10

This is the worst film of Mann's career and a blow to Hemsworth's non-Thor career. All the worst parts of previous films like Miami Vice (2006) and Public Enemies with none of their charms. The poor over dubbing of the Chinese pop star's "acting", the ludicrous romantic subplot that is essentially a cut and paste from Miami Vice (2006). Stiff, disjointed, slow, confusing, etc. just the worst. I'm actually kinda angry...Ha.
This is the worst film of Mann's career and a blow to Hemsworth's non-Thor career. All the worst parts of previous films like Miami Vice (2006) and Public Enemies with none of their charms. The poor over dubbing of the Chinese pop star's "acting", the ludicrous romantic subplot that is essentially a cut and paste from Miami Vice (2006). Stiff, disjointed, slow, confusing, etc. just the worst. I'm actually kinda angry...Ha.
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5:10PM on 01/16/2015
Wow...I had ZERO idea that Michael Mann did this movie! I thought Public Enemies was boring as fuck, though I really think Miami Vice is extremely underrated. It's a shame he isn't nearly as good as he used to be. This was completely off my radar until I found out Mann directed it. I still like his work enough to see this despite it looking bad
Wow...I had ZERO idea that Michael Mann did this movie! I thought Public Enemies was boring as fuck, though I really think Miami Vice is extremely underrated. It's a shame he isn't nearly as good as he used to be. This was completely off my radar until I found out Mann directed it. I still like his work enough to see this despite it looking bad
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12:32PM on 01/16/2015
Nice!
Nice!
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10:58PM on 01/15/2015

awww yeah!

my mann!! high five!
my mann!! high five!
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9:17PM on 01/15/2015
I'm pretty much seeing anything Mann does..because he's the man. Great review!
I'm pretty much seeing anything Mann does..because he's the man. Great review!
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7:58PM on 01/15/2015

Solid review

I'll check out this movie for sure.
I'll check out this movie for sure.
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2:03PM on 01/15/2015
Undecided on this one. I like Mann, but word about this film hasn't been good. I tend to trust Joblo reviews more so than others, but the negativity around this film is slightly overwhelming.
Undecided on this one. I like Mann, but word about this film hasn't been good. I tend to trust Joblo reviews more so than others, but the negativity around this film is slightly overwhelming.
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12:57PM on 01/15/2015

Bumbray is the real deal as well.

Chris gets it. He gets Michael Mann. 95% of audiences simply won't accept his anti-conventional approach. The rest of us know he's gone full blown experimental at this point and refuses to return to Heat-form...and it's glorious.
Chris gets it. He gets Michael Mann. 95% of audiences simply won't accept his anti-conventional approach. The rest of us know he's gone full blown experimental at this point and refuses to return to Heat-form...and it's glorious.
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10:34AM on 01/15/2015
After reading the comments here and other reviews, I'll be passing on seeing this in the theater.
After reading the comments here and other reviews, I'll be passing on seeing this in the theater.
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9:22AM on 01/15/2015

Nice

Been looking forward to this for a while. M. Mann has been my favorite director as well for a long time. From the review it sounds like typical Mann, which like Sir Ridley is what I want to see. Their style, their substance, etc. I'm not asking for them to re-invent the wheel. Solid entertainment. Screw the critics and the masses, I always liked the "near and dear" to those who have similar interests not wanting to be a part of "The Jonses"...ya dig?

P.S. I'd love to see him find a way to
Been looking forward to this for a while. M. Mann has been my favorite director as well for a long time. From the review it sounds like typical Mann, which like Sir Ridley is what I want to see. Their style, their substance, etc. I'm not asking for them to re-invent the wheel. Solid entertainment. Screw the critics and the masses, I always liked the "near and dear" to those who have similar interests not wanting to be a part of "The Jonses"...ya dig?

P.S. I'd love to see him find a way to bring on a Miami Vice sequel...again that's just me. So many avenues can still be explored in that world...
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9:11AM on 01/15/2015

Movie was horrible, who paid off JoBlo to give this anything higher than a 4???

This movie was shit. It's action scenes were crap, the tech lingo was sooo far off and it was just horrible.
This movie was shit. It's action scenes were crap, the tech lingo was sooo far off and it was just horrible.
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8:58AM on 01/15/2015
I was really disappointed by this, especially since it was a film I was looking forward to. It turned what could've easily been a breathless, high-stakes cross-continental chase into a plodding, dreadfully dull movie. I was glad that the Asian characters were not portrayed in a stereotypical way, but on the whole, this was a let-down.
I was really disappointed by this, especially since it was a film I was looking forward to. It turned what could've easily been a breathless, high-stakes cross-continental chase into a plodding, dreadfully dull movie. I was glad that the Asian characters were not portrayed in a stereotypical way, but on the whole, this was a let-down.
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6:37AM on 01/15/2015
Glad to see it gets good score.
Glad to see it gets good score.
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4:46AM on 01/15/2015

Glad to see it's good

Love all Mann movies. Tho I agree Public Enemies was a bit of a step back, I am a huge Miami Vice fan. Cant wait to see this.
Love all Mann movies. Tho I agree Public Enemies was a bit of a step back, I am a huge Miami Vice fan. Cant wait to see this.
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3:28AM on 01/15/2015
Movie was terrible and this is coming from a Miami Vice fan
Movie was terrible and this is coming from a Miami Vice fan
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1:33AM on 01/15/2015
Glad to read the positive review. Film looked and sounded terrific from the start and excited to see Hemsworth doing his own thing outside of being Thor every couple of years.
Glad to read the positive review. Film looked and sounded terrific from the start and excited to see Hemsworth doing his own thing outside of being Thor every couple of years.
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1:18AM on 01/15/2015
Well I'm gonna take your word for it since I usually do. I read elsewhere that the movie was surprisingly bad for a Mann film. I don't know, I'm a huge Miami Vice fan but apparently a lot of people didn't think that movie was any good.
Well I'm gonna take your word for it since I usually do. I read elsewhere that the movie was surprisingly bad for a Mann film. I don't know, I'm a huge Miami Vice fan but apparently a lot of people didn't think that movie was any good.
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12:44AM on 01/15/2015

Surprise, surprise

I had a bad feeling about this flick, considering the January release date, but that's a solid review. I'll probably wait until Netflix to check it out, though.
I had a bad feeling about this flick, considering the January release date, but that's a solid review. I'll probably wait until Netflix to check it out, though.
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