133 min - Action | Crime | Drama

Review: Kathryn Waite

It seems like January is a month of slumps. We are all getting back into the groove of things after the fun-filled holiday season, our schedules are back in their full swing of business, and there is a paltry selection of decent movies to see at the theaters. It should be pointed out that I am only speaking of new releases in January. There is a buzz of excitement after the Academy Award nominees are named and their films are re-introduced to audiences who didn’t think about seeing a certain contender until now. BUT… then there are the new releases of January. These movies are not big enough films to be summer blockbusters, not artistic enough to make the end-of-year Oscar releases, nor star-studded enough to draw audiences in during the spring and fall seasons. Blackhat is no exception to this. With slow pacing, predictable plot points, and subpar acting, this film is enjoyable for the first hour then is forgotten once you left the theater.

Our story follows a furloughed convict Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), an extremely talented hacker who has been serving a 15-year prison sentence. He is asked by the CIA and Chinese government to help track down a cyberterrorist who is using an updated version of an old code that Hathaway wrote in his college years. Hathaway tries to solve the case, but is pinned between two countries with tense relations. The chase sends Hathaway and his team (Viola Davis as the CIA agent, and Leehom Wang as a Chinese government member) all over the world in hopes to stop the hacker from causing more death and destruction.

The one redeemable quality about this movie is that it makes coding and hacking realistically boring. There are no crazy car chases, wild parties with beautiful women drinking champagne, or piles of money surrounded by dancing ladies and strobe lights found in this film. With that being said, I can see why Hollywood continues to add those types of elements to a hacker-film. Blackhat had scenes where the team was waiting around in dingy hotel rooms for a call. You would think that with such quiet moments, the writers would have focused on character development. Unfortunately, the characters never get developed past whatever introductory line is used when first shown on screen.

The movie is visually forgettable. Looking back on the film, I cannot recall any location or shot that made me think, “wow, that shot was impressive! I wonder how they did that.” It made the coding and hacking world too realistic to the point where you keep wanting to look at your watch and see when you’ll be able to get back to the exciting outside world.

Blackhat is rated R for violence and some language. Since hacker Hathaway has been locked away in a prison for years, there are some fighting scenes and sneaky shiv attacks. The language is very lightly scattered throughout so it does not seem like a Tarintino film where the foul language has been condensed into a three-minute scene. I can really only recommend this movie if you have a free movie pass, have two hours of your life to spare, and just want a movie that won’t make you think. If you do not fit into all three of those categories, please move along and start watching the Academy Award nominees now.

I give Blackhat, 1⁄2 of a computer hard drive out of five. If you want a realistic and well-balanced hacker film, go rent the 1992 classic Sneakers. All in all, this movie was barely enjoyable and extremely forgettable.


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