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Blackhat is another fantastic Michael Mann movie, and here is why
robk-952-11047516 January 2015
I have been looking forward to Blackhat for a couple of months now, and was able to see the movie on the am showing on it's first full day. What a thrill ride! Before I go into the details of why I loved this movie, I should point out where my perspective on a movie like this will be different than most, as reflected in some of the bad early reviews.

I have a Bachelors in Information Systems and a Masters in Information Security Assurance. I have worked in technology for 18 years now, the last 5 of that almost exclusively in the security end of the tech pool. Based upon my experience in the field and my recent exhaustive research into information security, I found the film to be a refreshing change from the typical rehashed Hollywood fantasy that is put out regarding anything with a computer chip installed.

The problem with how computers are depicted in most movie in television is that the capabilities of computers are completely overstated or just plain irrational. It is as if directors think technical hyperbole will make up for a lack of everyday viewer sophistication with computer science. I get that the majority of the population hasn't studied computers as a major and most know only as much as they need to to get online and send emails or watch Youtube. This is completely understandable.

However, with technology being so ubiquitous in today's world, I am a bit astounded at he flack a director gets when he attempts to use realistic computing in a movie. With all of the Androids, iOS devices, multiple computer households, and the increasing popularity of Linux operating systems, one would think that the average computer IQ of America was much higher than it was 20 years ago.

In reality, if computers are depicted in realistic terms in film, most people just wont get it. I blame this partly on shows like Star Trek and Star Wars (which I love, for what they are) that fantasize what computers may be like in 200 years. I also blame it on the epidemic of fantasy movies that seem to base nothing on reality but continue to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars from movie goers world wide.

At the end of the day, Michael Mann did a FANTASTIC job of depicting the real life of network engineers and computer scientists in this movie. Commands entered on screen followed conventional Unix command line format and were syntactically correct. You could tell Mann had done his research and hired true computing consultants in the writing of the script.

In addition, the attacks on the PLA systems that run the pumps used to cause the reactor meltdown and later planned for the mines was almost flawlessly realistic. That is in fact how those systems work and how attackers would compromise them across the Internet. Further, the types of attacks are entirely plausible given real world research conducted by the NSA, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and others. In addition, passing malware through PDF files by email is one of the most prominent ways that attackers take over computers in the real world, but viewer comments indicate they believe this to be too silly to be believable. Well as a security analyst, I can tell you to believe that scenario happens millions of times every year But, because we didn't have excessive flashing lights and cartoonish villains with a master plan to take over the entire world, the movie gets panned.

The reviews for Blackhat remind me of those for Miami Vice. In each instance, extensive research was done into the worlds of the criminals that served as the basis for the lead characters. But too much realism tends to bring out the boo birds who would rather focus on comic book heros that shoot lighting out of their eyeballs or fly around in steel suits too impossibly heavy to be powered by anything short of a large nuclear reactor while fighting off giant skyscraper-sized space worms.

Perhaps audiences would rather have compete fantasy in their movies. Perhaps we cannot appreciate anything that attempts the least bit of realism. However, I absolutely loved Blackhat for the same reason I loved Miami Vice. Michael Mann made an adult movie largely based upon fact that requires minimal amounts of escapism while requiring the viewer to use their intellect and actually think during the movie. For his efforts, I applaud him.

Lastly, this movie should serve as a warning to all those who are unaware of the rampant security issues that the US (the whole world actually) faces in this day and age. From a security analyst's perspective, the realism was welcome cautionary tale that needs to continued to be told until the general public gets it.
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Not exactly perfect but surprisingly good
igorfazlyev-0186925 October 2015
This film currently has an undeservedly low rating here on IMDb so it was with a bit of apprehension that I sat down to watch it and it proved to be much better than I had expected. The reason for the low rating I think is that the audiences today got too used to dumb 'action packed' crap like Taken that consists of little more than clichés and boring camera work. This movie dares to be different, it dares to be slow paced, watching it is like reading a book, it actually requires a mental effort on the part of the viewer to keep track of what's going on and naturally people these days don't like that. This film is from a different epoch, it's just too big and too multi-layered for the short attention span of the modern viewer weaned on vine videos. If you want to get an idea of what this movie is like without spoilers - think Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Don't be discouraged by the low rating, it's just that slow-burn thrillers are not everyone's cup of tea these days.

It should also be noted that it's not just in its approach to story telling that this film dares to be different it's also in its cinematography. Once again, it feels like a film from a different time period that hearkens back to the classic noir movies of yesteryear, something like Three Days of the Condor.

And last but not least, it's quite refreshing to have a main character that thinks ahead rather than simply barging in and relying solely on the script writers to help him prevail in whatever situation they may find themselves in.
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Blackhat is not only disappointing, its embarrassing
trublu21516 January 2015
Blackhat is the latest from maverick director Michael also happens to be his worst film ever. Yes, I am even factoring in The Keep. It is THAT bad. Starring Chris Hemsworth and Viola Davis, this film is a misfire and criminally misuses a talented cast and a talented crew. Nick is a furloughed convict trying to nail a destructive hacker who is damaging the financial stabilities of countries all around the world. Now, on the list of people better suited for this role, Chris Hemsworth shouldn't even be on this list. Watching him as a hacker is as painful as watching Adam Sandler in drag seduce Al Pacino. Working off a screenplay from Morgan Davis Foehl, Mann seems to focus more on having the shakiest hand-held cinematography not in a Paranormal Activity film than actually telling a coherent story with good characters. And for those of you who were expecting Michael Mann to deliver a film like Heat or The Insider, you will walk away from this thoroughly disappointed. The action is short, rare and very tame while the scenes that are attempting to explain what the hell is going on are so convoluted, long and boring that it creates a very uneven film that borders unwatchable. One of the biggest gripes I have with this film is the cinematography. It is entirely too shaky for a film like this and, on a serious note, reminded me more of End of Watch. While that style fit End of Watch perfectly, it doesn't fit this film. It doesn't make it look gritty, it just makes it look painfully under-produced and underfunded. Overall, Mann's Blackhat serves as one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory considering the fact this is Michael Mann we're talking about here...the guy who did Heat, Thief and Collateral. Unfortunately, if this is the best Mann has to offer, I fear it is only going to get worse as time goes on. Blackhat is underdeveloped, unrealistic, and filmed terribly. Watcher beware!!!
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Slow, boring, uninteresting and a waste of time
grandmastersik1 May 2015
I think that about sums this film up.

Some hacker who most will recognise as the god of thunder is released from prison by his bestie, to help track down some faceless cyber-criminal. An hour and a half in, we're still none the wiser as to what's going on, but do know that the released hacker is free to run around the globe as he pretty much spearheads the investigation... which, sadly, is even less entertaining than watching YouTube videos on how to write HTML.

His best mate from university also just so happens to have a semi-hot sister with dodgy English tagging along, and while it's understandable that, having been banged up for some time, our hacker is very likely to jump on the first thing in a skirt, her interest in him seems like a bizarre Chinese experiment on how to have a relationship in which there is zero chemistry.

There's some US Marshall assigned to keep the hacker in line, but that doesn't include stopping him from going around cutting open people's faces with broken bottles in restaurants, or interfering with crime scenes when their main suspect has been removed from the equation under suspicious circumstances.

Our hacker is also 10x smarter than the entire Hong Kong police force, a krav magra expert, quite nifty with a firearm and the all-round hero, being the first to go into a reactor after some kind of meltdown. Given his skillset, he could have just hacked into MI6, gotten a fancy watch and car full of gadgets and lived out the rest of his days as 007.

Seriously, the film is god-awful and for a huge fan of action films like myself to want to press the stop button in the middle of the first real fire-fight, something has to be very wrong.

As it happens, I couldn't endure much longer after that and came here to write this instead, because telling others how I turned this tedious dross off seemed like a much better way to spend my time than sitting through the rest of the film to see what happens in the end... which is something I really couldn't care about.
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Extremely disappointing
kayserkilian29 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers

Even tho the movie is rather long, it invests almost no time into character development.

1.1 Chris Hemsworth is left with a role that is neither likable, nor interesting, and I have never heard one line of good dialogue from him throughout the whole thing (same for every character here). He's supposed to be a genius hacker, but if we wouldn't be told that all the time, nobody would recognize him as either a genius or a hacker. He's just an attractive dude who knows a thing or 2 about codes. SPOILER: Also, in the end, he solves all his problems just by primitive physical force. Wow. what a hacker.

1.2 The Chick and the love affair... it doesn't get more flat than that. It really doesn't. She is also supposed to be a great IT specialist or something like that. But we barely see any of those skills either.

1.3 The Bad Guy, well... I hoped for the entire movie that he would make the difference when he appears. But he didn't. He was just a one dimensional greedy cliché.

1.4 The supporting characters are no better. Like that black government lady. Saying "I lost someone on 9/11" shortly before she dies is an absolutely desperate attempt to give her character (that was emotionally completely meaningless before) some depth and make her death more tragic. Another Michael Mann movie, where this technique worked really well was "Heat". In "Blackhat it just didn't work one bit.


In the first half, the movie raises a few questions and sets up some mysteries. I actually liked that, but only because I wanted to see the puzzles solved creatively and unexpectedly. SPOILER AGAIN!... turns out the bad guy hacked a nuclear power plant (!) and the stock market (!!!) TO PRACTICE (?????) for some rusty engines somewhere in Malaysia. I'm not gonna lie, I bursted out laughing in the theatre at that point, and a few other people were even joining me.


...ok but who cares? That would have been the icing on the cake if the movie itself was good, yes. But that fact alone doesn't make it a good movie or anything.

So that's it. I'm really confused about the many positive feedbacks here. I can not imagine how anyone could give this movie more than 3 stars. I can't even give it 2...

Absolute waste of time and a talented director and cast...
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Tedious but Watchable
After a Chinese Nuclear plant is hacked, FBI agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) insists the FBI work with the Chinese government to track the hacker down. She is finally convinced that this needs the help of super hacker Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) who is serving a 15-year prison sentence.

I think most movies have an obligation to get the audience engaged, especially in the beginning. The beginning of this movie tried to dazzle us with computer hacking showing us what happens inside a computer with the CGI going wild, but it went on for too long and we started thinking of other things we needed to do like reorganizing our sock drawer. This was the first step in losing the audience.

The rest of movie slowly comes around trying to locate the hacker with huge amounts of Geek Teckno-babble losing us once again. Then with Nick's help we come to realize that this hack was not political, but something else. Yes, this is the "Twist" we come to believe is in every movie. And it is here the movie begins to make sense as more hacks come about disrupting economies throughout the world. Ah, so it's all about the money. Ah, we thought so. Once that is realized, the movie settles down to something we can finally understand: good guys vs the bad guys.

However, it is still slow-going as players stand around waiting for their lines. Add to this too many sub-titles that were too long to read before the scene changed and we lost the last 6-words or so. What were they thinking? Don't they know I never took that speed-reading course? Hey, I meant to.

A U.S. Marshall was supposed to stick with Nick everywhere he went, but we see him go to a restaurant to meet one of the hackers and no Marshall is in sight. Did the Continuity Girl (yeah, it's usually a girl) not read the script and mess up? Of course, there is a big fight here and, of course, Nick prevails, of course. Actually, this was a very good (read brutal) fight scene. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Probably the best part of the movie. Hey, who needs THOR?

This is tedious, but watchable because we keep hoping this will get better and it does in the last 15-minutes. The love interest between Nick and Chen (Tang Wei) is forced, but so were a lot of things in here. So what else is new? Most scenes were so short no player had any time to show off any acting talent. Long shots of player grimaces don't count. Now, about that sock drawer…………. (4/10)

Violence: Yes. Sex: No, we only see a make-out session. Nudity: No. Language: yes, some not much.
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Watching it was not a good experience
yuval-invoke27 February 2015
Suffers from inconsistencies, both technical and story wise. They change the shooting styles, cameras, fps, warmth/cold - for no apparent reasons at all. Feels like it's not clear what this movie "wants to be". The main character is supposed to be a "super-hacker" but doesn't do anything "super hack-y", just wanders around, shooting people, and nails the female protagonist. Doesn't have many hacking-scenes for a "hackers movie", has tons of boring gun-scenes instead, from some reason. The motivation of the villain was, not interesting. References many other "movie-cliches" (not in a good way). Severely lacks humor. The few jokes in it are really cheesy (yeah, it's not a comedy , but comic reliefs are important). Many of the audience members left the theater in the middle or before the end.

Video review:
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More paradox than movie
A_Different_Drummer17 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Seriously. Here you have a Michael Mann A-list movie about a very topical issue and starring two individuals (Helmsworth and Tang) with genetics so flawless they could, in theory, repopulate the globe with beautiful babies if they had to ... and the reviews are mainly dismal, and the IMDb rating about what you would expect from an indie produced in someone's basement....? What happened? They say that when a spouse is killed the first suspect the police consider is the remaining spouse.

And when a film of such potential as this one seems to land flat on its face ... the first suspect is always the script.

And there is the problem. Indeed.

The script is not merely unconventional, it would have trouble passing an inkblot test. Off the top ten minutes (great setup!) the audience is conditioned to expect one kind of movie, then a half hour later they realize they are getting yet another kind of movie, then 2/3 of the way through when most of the A-list cast gets killed in a gunfight (I did check the spoiler box!) they suddenly realize they are getting yet another kind of movie .... and in the last five minutes when the two lovers head off for parts unknown while the CIA and NSA appear to be watching .. the audience finally realizes it has no idea what it is actually getting at all.

And that, kind reader, explains the rating issue. It is not nice to mess with Mother Nature and equally not nice to present an audience with an action film they cannot understand.

Now personally (which is the whole point of being an IMDb reviewer) I liked it. But mainly for the way the story arcs scoffed at convention and constantly veered off in some strange direction or another.

But then again I like to study films as well as watch them, and most viewers may not have such flexibility.

That is the kind of mistake amateurs make. One expects more from Mann.
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Slow-Burn Suspense Thriller with Solid Cybercrime Technology
bwindsor88816 January 2015
If you like taut, slow-burn suspense thrillers like Alfred Hitchcock's films and 'The Drop' in 2014 with James Gandolfini (which I thought was excellent), then please *go see this movie* in the theater; I think you will like it. (If the negative reviewers here thought they were getting a superhero movie like 'The Avengers', then they weren't paying attention to the previews :-) .) Blackhat features a computer hacker (Chris Hemsworth) who is furloughed from prison to counter-attack an elite cybercrime team. The cybercrime technology in the movie includes current techniques such as RATs (Remote Access Trojans) and keypad trackers. Following the movie plot is important -- the script is sparse (my only real objection); so it's important to track the plot developments. Michael Mann's camera-work is impressive during chase scenes, and his animations of cybercrime technology processes are inventive. I plan to see it a second time in the theater with other friends.
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Gives You Just Enough to Not Walk Out
mturner715 January 2015
If I had to pay to see this movie when I saw it, I'd be so mad, but I didn't, so I was disappointed for free. Chris Hemsworth and Voila Davis are so much MORE than the crappy roles they were given for this film. The storyline was all over the place; there are too many side stories to keep up with. The overall concept of the film is fun and interesting, but its execution is very poor. There's light at the end of the tunnel during a few scenes, and the attention of the audience is kept somehow by a very thin thread. In the end, it's pure curiosity that'll keep you from walking out on the movie altogether. In the hands of a different writer and director, this film would've been great. I suggest waiting for it to be available on Redbox instead of seeing it in the theater.
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surprised in a good way
desperradoo14 April 2016
I waited a long time watching this movie because of all the bad summaries and ratings, but, here is my opinion. - Blackhat is an entertaining movie with an interesting visual language and I was really surprised how "not that bad" it is. Yeah sure, it doesn't have the dept of a Heat or Aviator, but it is still a solid peace - I Have a feeling that a lot of the people didn't understand Manns intentions in terms of camera, picture language and dramaturgy. The same thing happened with Miami vice! - My advice, watch it and form your own opinion and do not make the same mistake as me not watching it due to the opinion of others.
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I couldn't sit through it all.
mauvm29 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I was so excited when I first heard about this movie! It just has a lot of potential, especially regarding the online events from the past years. But watching the first half of this movie felt like Hollywood was flipping me off. It keeps becoming harder for me to sit through the Hollywood movies due to the lack of depth and the logical mistakes that they keep making:

1) A nuclear reactor does not get hacked over the wire. Why would a country be stupid enough to give the main computers in a nuclear reactor access to the internet? So that the employees can play online poker? The real hack was done by writing highly specific software and spreading it on to as much USB sticks as possible. One of them was used by an employee and voìla.

2) Three main characters that have one-liner back stories? Also the dialog feels rushed and often very corny.

3) First it's all "a marshal will be by your side in every point in time" and not much later he seems to have all the freedom in the world (regarding computer access). The marshal even hands him his phone! And that to a guy that can open up a terminal, hack a bank, and wire 900 dollars to all of his inmates..

4) In the Chinese restaurant Nick tracks down the IP address of the guy they were supposed to meet, which had 265 in it. Basic networking 101: an IPv4 address has four digits, separated by dots, ranging from 0-255. For a movie about with a 70 million dollar budget, I'd expect they'd do some fact checking.

Apparently the real challenge is making believable movies about IT related things (they nailed it in the movie Her).. Guess I'm back to watching documentaries again.
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If you make a hacker-movie, at least get your basic facts right..
scottyxl9 February 2015
I must say when I watched the trailer for this movie I was skeptical, there are only a few hacker- movies that are enjoyable to watch.

Sometimes I am wrong and the movie turns out to be better then I expected but not in this case. I actually got quite annoyed watching this. The computer action looked authentic by using existing OS-es and interfaces but they still made huge mistakes. IP's with numbers higher than 255 is just plain stupid and accessing a top-secret NSA program with some simple social engineering looked convincing on screen but I doubt the NSA allows simple user/pass access to such tooling. I could go on and on...

I did like the idea of the plot, too bad the execution was so terrible. Probably the only thing I really liked where the two big shootout scenes, you saw a bit of Heat's director Mann there:)

Unsynced audio and weird changes in volume where also very annoying, something you don't expect from a $70mil movie.

I'm giving this a +1 because it tried to be authentic so a 4 bumps up to a 5/10 rating.
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Excellent addition to the Michael Mann catalogue
crispinoliver19 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
So firstly, do NOT take any of the low score reviews into consideration when deciding about this movie. They are clearly looking for something far less impressive and with a much shallower plot. If you like Michael Mann I promise you WILL like this. OK, it's not a break-neck furious ride, but was Collateral? OK, it might not have the depth and characterisation of Heat, but come on, that had Pacino and DeNiro! OK, it is not full of headline villains and massive weapons like maybe your average super hero movie, but come on, they are generally dreadful popcorn fodder anyway! What this does have however is everything you want from Michael Mann; cinematography, soundtrack, those amazing cityscapes, the personal camera angles that Mann uses without comparison, and 3 excellent lead actors. A lot of criticism has been aimed at Chris Hemsworth, but without HIS portrayal, the relationship with Wei Tang would not be credible, and ergo the movie wold not carry. Their relationship is key and it brings the same intense feeling that DeNiro had with Amy Brenneman, and Colin Farrell with Li Gong in Miami Vice; right from that first cab-ride I was sold on his feelings towards her. What I will say though is that yes, there are some issues with some of the actual hacking and investigation 'logistics', a-la 24 or Spooks, but hey, again, just sit back and enjoy the fun. Did you really ever think every movie you have ever watched was entirely plausible or true to life anyway?? I'm sorry to all of you 1/10 reviewers, you've missed a trick. Please try it again!
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Excessively long, highly implausible and uninteresting
quincytheodore21 January 2015
There's no sugar coating it, Blackhat is terrible. It has agonizingly slow pace, stupid logic and a barrage of tech lingo which withers your will to watch it till the end. It's surprising that this is the work of Michael Mann who produced much superior film, Collateral, more than a decade ago. Chris Hemsworth as lead is willing, he makes the best out of his character, even if it seems he's lost most of the time.

The story revolves around a cyber terrorist attack on Hong Kong nuclear plant. Chris Hemsworth, because his screen name isn't memorable enough, is called to consult on apprehending the hacker responsible for this act. At first glance this is supposed to be cerebral endeavor, but it does not even come close. In fact, regular mundane investigation requires arduous effort. Finding the simplest clues will take five minutes of narrative, and this is done with incredibly alienating script. Plenty of terms that might not be familiar to audience, and even if that's not an issue, the movie repeats itself too many times without adding much.

There is no satisfying master plan, or even basic plan at all. Characters make the bad decisions such as not taking cover in fire fight or doing illicit deed in public, these are supposed to be agents sent to resolve international incident and mastermind behind it. In no realistic realm these scenarios could work, but they stupidly do, only for the sake of the plot. It disappoints in every turn, after all the nifty computer screen, I daresay Fast & Furious 5 plan of dragging bank vault makes more sense.

If the movie does anything right, it's the use of setting and cinematography. Michael Mann has a certain style which produces an authentic feel of any place the characters play in. Some scenes extenuate the long pace with unbridled view of buildings and the city. Unfortunately, with such thin substance it feels like a long boring drive at best.
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Hacking - Lucrative Trade
westsideschl31 July 2015
This is one of the few, say past fifteen years, films with science and or high tech as an important plot element, whether sci-fi or just drama, that did its research and got the science/tech mostly right. And, it did so in a way that explained it with some entertaining clarity e.g. the opening, and a couple of other scenes, showing packets of data traveling through computer architecture was about as good as it can be. The rest of the film that dealt with cyber hacking was presented with accuracy and surprising clarity for a mass marketing film. Great location authenticity with filming in L.A. (OK, that's not so great), Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong.

On the other hand the action scenes were basically just movie entertainment and at times a bit overboard. Such as, and a bit far-fetched, that our lead character (Hemsworth) is a world class coder (programmer) and some how had the time to become a world class action killing machine. Talk about being a Renaissance man! More of an international cast would have been interesting. Davis (with Tina Turner wig which made no sense for an agent) was stereotyped into filling the black FBI agent role which seems to be a popular character placement in film in recent years (e.g., recently, "Powers").
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Surprisingly rich viewing
edddy-111 August 2016
Warning: Spoilers
There wasn't anything much I didn't like about Blackhat. I loved the pace and gritty flavour. Cinematography, editing, close ups and hand held camera style put me right in the front seat of this film as if I were there in the scenes and almost inhabiting the characters. Music was romantic and soul stirring. This is my first IMDb review because I'm shocked at this film's poor reception at box office and by other reviewers. Chris Hemsworth could not have better filled his role as the person to meet the cyber attacker villain head on. Always seeing through the chaos of clues to the facts that mattered. The other characters were all played so well also. Classic stirring Michael Mann where you feel for the characters engaged in their struggle for life and meaning whatever the cost.
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Great Thriller with a Complex Story
claudio_carvalho6 June 2015
After a cyber attack to a Chinese nuclear facility and to the American commodities market, the governments decide to hunt the blackhat together. Colonel Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang) is assigned by the Chinese government and he meets the American Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) and Mark Jessup (Holt McCallany) in Los Angeles. He invites his sister Chen Lien (Wei Tang) and he discovers that the hacker used a computer code developed by his old MIT friend Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) that is in prison for stealing money from banks. He requests that Nick joins the team and they have to travel to China following the lead. Along their journey, Nick and Lien fall in love with each other. However they can not discover the motivation for the attack and Nick has to do a risky move to find the location of the hacker. Will he succeed in finding who is the responsible for the attacks?

"Blackrat" is a great thriller with a complex story, great camera work and several locations in Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Malasya. The plot is not simple to be followed and maybe this is the reason why there are negative reviews of this movie. After six years, Michael Mann shows that he is still in great shape. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Hacker"
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This is the worst movie since the 1st Little Shop of Horrors
consultinggroupusa12 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The only reason I have awarded this movie a 1 is because 0 wasn't an option. They waste so much time at the beginning of the movie trying to make a point to us "normal" none geeks about about the theoretical workings in a computer and how the data transfer assimilates through the keystrokes in the computer and how that works at a rapid speed, that I was ready to walk out of the show after the first 10 minutes. my bad for not doing so because the movie continues to move very slowly and methodically trying to tell a story that wasn't a very good story to begin with. With all the non translated Chinese just being spoken where we don't understand what the heck is going on, and all the Nonverbals that we are expected to figure out, it just isn't worth the effort. I don't mind seeing a movie that makes you think but I do mind seeing a movie that makes you feel like I just don't get it. Maybe they want/expect all of us to be grads of MIT, like the people in the movie, but if they do they missed the opportunity for the audience to actually get into the movie and try to understand the logic.
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Don't make the same mistake I did.
BrentHankins15 January 2015
Sometimes, watching a bad film - and in my case, subsequently writing a review of a bad film - can be an enjoyable experience. There are some films that are so painfully bad that they actually become somewhat fascinating, and there's a part of you that wants tell others about them, mostly so you can sit around afterward saying things like "do you remember that part when..." and sharing a laugh.

And then there are films like Blackhat, which is so appallingly atrocious that it borders on being offensive. While it probably isn't fair to believe that every film from Michael Mann to be as engaging as Heat or as exciting as Collateral, audiences should still be able to expect a certain level of competence from the veteran director. In this case, those competencies aren't just missing - it's almost as if they never existed. If it weren't for a handful of signature shots, I would never have believed that Mann had anything to with this mess of a film.

Chris Hemsworth, best known for his role as Thor in the Marvel films, is laughably miscast as Nicholas Hathaway, an MIT graduate currently serving a 15-year sentence for hacking into a series of banks. After a disaster in a Chinese power plant is traced back to a malicious piece of code, Hathaway gets furloughed in order to help a no-nonsense FBI agent (Viola Davis) and his former roommate, now a Chinese government official (Wang Leehom), track down the culprit - because of course, Hathaway just happens to have a special connection to the code.

And speaking of special connections, there's also his old pal's sister (Tang Wei), who gets a few looks at Hathaway and his constantly unbuttoned shirt and falls right into bed with him. There's a throwaway line about her being some sort of network engineer, but she exists solely as a plot device, an effort to shoehorn a preposterous romance into a film that is already full of things that make absolutely no sense. For starters, if Hathaway has been in prison for most of his adult life, when did he find time to become an expert marksman with a handgun, or a master of hand-to- hand combat?

This is just one of many, many questions that Blackhat raises, without offering a single satisfactory answer. Michael Mann goes to great lengths to extend the film's already overbearing running time by subscribing to the "style over substance" theory. Take, for example, the film's opening sequence, which finds the camera doing a microscopic zoom into phone lines and over motherboards, showing us what it believes are the inner workings of technology as data is being transmitted. It's an arrogant, ham-fisted attempt to create excitement where none exists, and the truth is, we don't care about seeing the data travel from Point A to Point B - we just want to know what happens when it gets there.

Rarely have I found myself so overwhelmingly frustrated with a film, and I honestly can't remember the last time I sat in a theater checking my watch as often as I did during Blackhat. This is the first theatrical release I've seen since before the start of the new year, and I almost feel ashamed by the fact that I wasted the title of "first movie of 2015" on this garbage. Unlike the aforementioned so-bad-they're-good films, there is nothing redeemable, interesting, or enjoyable about Blackhat. Don't make the same mistake I did.

-- Brent Hankins,
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Linux in Indonesia user@/: $bsh
clarkj-565-16133619 January 2015
If you love Linux/Unix and like foreign places, this film is for you. The basic premise is quite believable, considering recent events about malware bringing down some serious systems. I found all the characters credible as well, maybe not the flamboyant super heroes we all love to see, but real world types. The protagonist correctly applies the question of "cui bono" to determine who benefits from the horrific events and proceeds to solve the mystery. The scenes in China and Indonesia are really fascinating. The world is filled with these types of criminals, and there are individuals who have the abilities to take them on and win! Great acting in a minimalist but credible way. Everyone from the Chinese Officers, the US government officials, the watchers to the criminals seemed to be spot on for the part.
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A Michael Mann film
temrok917 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I was almost going to believe that this would be a very bad movie according to some nasty reviews, but as I usually enjoy Mann's films I chose to go check myself.I really can't understand what was registered in the brains of the people who disliked the movie while watching it.Maybe too much Hunger Games has harmed the audiences-and the critics- or maybe the trivial has emerged as SOMETHING in our everyday routine that when something really great appears we can not comprehend what this is all about.Mann is a great director, and Blackhat is a masterpiece of the cinema he makes, a cinema with similarities to that of Melville, as they both deal with police stories in their own way.This is a movie you emerge into or stay out at all.Like all great films, it's not about how believable is what we watch, but about how we connect with it.Mann creates a mesmerizing journey in cities, sounds and motions that consists a universe of its own(not realistic, not unrealistic my dear critics);in the aftermath, it is the individual against the law of men, and in the meantime there's friendship, love and, of course, death.Oh and yes, utopia as well!
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A waste of money......
lbrandtg17 January 2015
Went to see this movie attracted by the topic and leading actor. The movie was weird and even special effects made no sense. I thought it was maybe me being tired but of the 15 people in the theater 9 left the movie before it ended. I was the tenth. I consider myself an open minded person and tried to give the benefit of the doubt to this film, however everything has a limit. There is a miss match among actors, action scenes and translation to English of Chinese talks and vice versa. Don not get me wrong, Chris Hemsworth was very good. Movie is Extremely Slow. Maybe was expecting a typical American film, but this is definitely no Miami vice either. Hope this helps to save someone money to other readers. Thanks
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chaos-rampant15 June 2015
I saw this when it came out and my immediate impression was of a 90s techno thriller, of something a little outmoded, with its whiff of millennial angst and nefarious mastermind wreaking havoc on the economy; early on hacking even has to be made tangible for us as a threatening energy surging through a fabric of wires, a silly image.

Flaws come by a certain contrast between a world they tried to ground in believable dynamics and then a stock action hero – on top of having to be a hacker – walks through it. There's also a romance they don't do well at all.

I don't need things to be just perfect though. I go by what the Japanese call wabi sabi, joyous embrace of imperfection. Japanese potters will often line fractures in old tea bowls with gold dust instead of chucking the bowl away to go buy a new one from the store. The damage here is in how the thing came to be as it made its way to us. The real question for me is do I want this in my home, does it have value? I do.

I believe the main creative task for Mann here was both simple and encompassing, the journey through different fabrics of world, each with its own order and rituals. It is then a saga in the ordinary sense of following a larger conspiracy, not wholly satisfying this, but also in this more intimate sense; a saga of travelling through a complex world to see something of its very weave.

One fabric is the modern world that entwines computers and the economy; partly because it's relevant narrative for all, but in this other sense it lets Mann unfold an artificial order of things – anchored in the stockmarket – that abstractly underpins so much else, from where reality on the ground is manipulated. Violence becomes representation – stockmarket prices crash. Coding as narrative of control. Hacking as ritual of control.

Another shows rowdy Asian streets where schmucks like us go about their day, small in the tectonic shift. Places like Hong Kong and Jakarta offer those contrasts so we can see a more primal order of things in the shadow of skyscrapers. Violence as the drive of this world too, guns and chases. It's still the same ritual of trying to control existence, the oldest game played by men. It ends with one ritual in Jakarta disrupted by another.

But there's also a third fabric here, one that Mann has been trying to surround for a long time now – a different sort of energy surging through a different sort of fabric.

It's the transient world of simmering horizons and cityscapes. The energy is a melancholy about their passing: reflection. Currents of air coming from an open window that for a moment chill the soul, wake it up from the plots – rituals of control – it finds itself caught in. The most poignant of these, the shot of a woman laying flat on her back on a road, she's far from home in a strange place, life is going out of her; her eyes flicker up at the sky, a final rush of realization that a life has just been lived, this was it.

It's this sense of presence that wakes up this potter to go to work I believe, inhabiting a world, and if you listen to him talk as well. It's wanting to photograph Ali on the rooftop of a building, swooping into something we've known – and expect to see again – a certain way, as narrative, artificial order of things, to find someone looking out in the middle of it. A more original questioning. Public Enemies showed to many how they just wanted the accustomed artifice.

Digital has been a tool for this rediscovery, he sets the bar high again.
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Different take on film. Found it Enjoyable.
dtdblakeney9317 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is a different kind of movie. The plot is not very gripping at first, but I found it enticing entering into a world I know nothing about and am curious to explore. The actors in this film are great and I believe were not given a script to really show off their acting chops. That being said, I really like the response given by those in the information technology sector, that the film was very true to how hacking actually goes about. I have read many reviews that discard this saying that true hacking is too boring, and I think that is just silly. Camera angles and effects really make this film for me. Very cool to witness certain scenes and the direction they were given. Definitely a slow paced movie and once respecting that this pace was intentional, you start to really enjoy this movie. Glad I went to see it.
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