Let me start off by saying that I used a free ticket to see this film and regretted it. This is one of the few films where I’ve seen someone actually get up and leave (He made it about thirty minutes). I really only went because Will wanted to see it and Will only wanted to see it because Michael Mann directed it. Who is Michael Mann, you ask? Michael Mann is the Tiger Woods of Hollywood. He started off great with films like Manhunter (The original Hannibal Lector movie), The Last of the Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Ali, and Collateral but in the last ten years he’s put out Miami Vice, Public Enemies, and now this. He used to hit everything but now misses cuts. He was once the greatest golfer on Earth but now he hasn’t won a major since 2008 and has lost all his endorsements (Mann even directed two commercials for Nike in 2007). Mr. Mann, please, call it quits before you tarnish your entire legacy.
The film was written by an assistant editor named Morgan Davis Foehl who has no credits since I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry. I can only assume Mann, an accomplished writer, did most of the work and is giving him credit (For the failure). This isn’t the first time a Marvel star has played a hacker and it turned out horribly (One reviewer referred to this film as Thordfish) but at least this time they wouldn’t have to shell out the extra dough for Halle Barry’s tits. This movie is so horrendous that I will only be using pictures of Chris Hemsworth as Thor (And related Marvel characters) in my review. So I now give you my review of Marvel Studios’ Blackhat. Keep in mind while you’re reading this that Google’s security expert Parisa Tabriz said, “It’s the most accurate information security film I’ve seen”.
The movie starts out at a nuclear power facility in Hong Kong with ten minutes of CGI hacker code making it’s way through cables and into systems. A normal movie would have used a pointless intro this long to show all the credits… this movie does not. The film is probably a good forty-five minutes too long and twenty of that is these random CGI scenes of information traveling through cables. We also see the back of the villainous hacker Sadak. You would think that by not showing his face in the entire movie until the end it would either be someone famous or be someone else you see in the movie that double crosses the hero but you would be wrong. It’s just some guy named Yorick van Wageningen.
Cyber god of mischief
He shuts down the water pumps cooling the nuclear rods initiating a near meltdown in the reactor. There’s a large explosion. China is pissed. Soon after, the stock market is hacked. The United States is pissed. The FBI puts their people on it (Viola Davis as Carol Barrett) . China puts their people on it. They task a military officer with their cyber warfare unit, Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang), to track down those responsible.
“Yes, I was in Thor.”
Dawai needs someone he can trust so he meets with his sister Lien (The scrumptious Wei Tang) in a trite scene to point out how overprotective of her he is. It turns out Dawai was raised in America so he’s the perfect person to go over and team up with the FBI. He reveals that one of the codes used by the evil hacker was created in college by he and his roommate, Nick Hathaway. There’s only one problem though… Hathaway is in jail
“Guard! I droppeth the soap!!!”
Dawai arranges for the FBI to obtain his release if he helps them. If he steps one foot out of line though, it’s back to the Loki… I mean pokey. A US Marshall named Jessup puts an ankle bracelet on him and shadows his every move, but Hathaway is able to quickly get into his phone and change the settings on his anklet despite the fact that apple comes out with a new iphone every three months and he has been in prison for several years. Thus begins a long winded chase where they attempt to track down someone working for the hacker. It leads to them a guy that leads them to a guy like every Law And Order episode. Again, much more time could have been trimmed out of this long ass movie by having the evidence just lead them to the guy they would eventually get to but this sets up a scene where they send thugs to a Korean restaurant to beat Thor up… or something. Despite being incarcerated for years and a computer geek before that, Hathaway knows Muay Thai and knife fighting skills so he beats them all up.
“I played a lot of Mortal Kombat as a child.”
The team returns to Hong Kong and hooks up with the local police to discover who the money from the stock market hack went to. It’s three men, seemingly unconnected, but they share a common friend in a Russian paramilitary agent named Kassar. Also, Lien starts having sex with Hathaway. Her brother discovers this, but despite being supremely overprotective is OK with his former friend getting out of prison and throwing his little sister the ol’ egg roll.
“Still best friends?”
The money gets transferred out of the accounts and they discover the stakeout team has been killed so the Warriors Three spring into action. They don’t catch Kassar because his real estate agent was able to find him a really nice condo with a fucking tunnel underneath it. Through a combination of shitty slow action, claymores, and unnecessary C4, the bad guys are able to escape after killing a bunch of police. The good news is that the nuclear reactor is now stable enough for them to enter the ruins and possibly retrieve data that could lead them to the hacker. Again, despite the fact that he has no training whatsoever in dealing with a radioactive environment, they suit him up and send him in.
The data they retrieve is fragmented, so Hathaway asks Agent Barrett about how they were able to use data he had erased against him at trial. She reveals that the NSA has a program that can put back together destroyed digital data. She calls and asks to use it and between not wanting to share with China and not wanting Hathaway to get it they refuse. Hathaway decides to break into their system and use it anyway. It’s their only chance of catching the hacker. Keep in mind, if he doesn’t catch the hacker he goes back to prison and if gets caught breaking into the NSA server they will invalidate his deal and even if he does catch the hacker they will send him back to prison… but he does it anyway. The NSA program, by the way, is called Black Widow.
Not making that up.
He gains access to the system by sending an e-mail to the guy who denied them the program posing as his boss. It says that he heard he received a phone call about the FBI wanting to use Black Widow with the Chinese and Hathaway so he suggests he change his password. Helpfully attached to the e-mail is the NSA guidelines on changing your password. Now, despite the fact that it would be impossible for the boss to have found out about the phone call in so short an amount of time, despite the fact that a high ranking official in the NSA would already be aware of their password guidelines, and despite the fact in general that people at the fucking NSA probably don’t click on every e-mail attachment like the old guy you work with, he downloads whatever Thor sent him and it allows him to take control of the program and find out that the dude they’re looking for is in Jakarta.
Beautiful, sunny Jakarta! The New York of Indonesia!
Despite it’s recent incompetence, the NSA discovers Hathaway’s hack immediately and demands that Barrett bring him back to jail. Dawai tries to head this off by seeking asylum for him in China but his government disagrees citing it’s tenuous relationship with the US. Hathaway and Lien have to go on the run. Lien also learns that the hacker has been buying satellite photos of a remote site in Perak, Malaysia.
Dawai and Hathway plan to travel to Jakarta and finish this but the bad guys are able to find them. I actually made a joke about Dawai’s car getting blown up moments before it happened. The bad guys have Hathaway and Lien pinned down, but because he hasn’t removed the tracking anklet Agent Barrett and the Marshall are soon on the scene. Now, despite the fact that they drive up behind the bad guys who are shooting at their friends… which gives them a tactical advantage… instead of sneaking up behind them and shooting them Barrett decides to drive by while Jessup takes pot shots at them from a moving vehicle. She parks the car in a way that provides no cover, gets out, and is killed immediately. Doesn’t even get a shot off. United States Marshall Jessup is able to take down several of the bad guys before being killed himself.
I assume this is why women get paid less than men.
Once in Malaysia, Hathaway is able to discover that the attack on the nuclear facility was just a rehearsal! They use the same type of water pumps to keep the old riverbeds dry so they can mine tin. His dastardly plan is to buy a bunch of tin stock then flood the mines making the price go up! Again, this is despite the fact that he has already successfully stolen seventy-five million dollars. Whatever. Can I get up and go pee yet?
They travel to Jakarta and manage to steal the hacker’s money and use it to negotiate a meeting feigning that he would like to work with him and feels the guy already owes him for using the code he designed. He tells them to come alone but they don’t. Hathaway’s too smart for them though and doesn’t show up. He gives them a new location instead. To prepare for the meeting, Hathaway constructs a makeshift suit of body armor out of taping magazines around his body and wearing a scarf. He also buys a bunch of screwdrivers and makes them into prison shanks.
I’m not making that up either.
Keep in mind that at the time he is in the possession of seventy-five million dollars. He could have bought actual body armor and a couple of guns. He could have bought a tank. Hell, he could have paid Tony Stark to make him an Iron Man suit. Nope. Anyways, they meet at a crowded parade. The hacker and Kassar move through the crowd. Kassar punches people at random who get in his way. This does not seem out of the ordinary to anyone and no one takes offense or protests. Hathaway sneaks up behind them but Kassar’s Russian spider-sense alerts him to the danger and he pulls a gun on him. He searches Hathaway who sneaks out one of his prison shanks and stabs him in the ear, mafia ice pick style. He then takes Kassar’s gun and has a shoot out with the other bad guys. Somehow, one of the bullets gets through his magazine bullet proof vest.
Again, despite the fact that he has no training at all and is wounded, he is able to shoot a couple of trained mercenaries who already fought off a Hong Kong S.W.A.T. team that had them outnumbered two to one. With all of his men down and Hathaway wounded, the hacker pulls out a knife and attempts to finish the job. He walks up behind Thor and stabs him in the neck. Bad news, dude! Forgot about the kevlar scarf. U mad bro? Hathaway pulls out another shank and stabs him forty-five times in the chest looking like Tommy Lee Jones or Benicio Del Toro in The Hunted.
We were in Marvel too!
Fortunately, Lien already had bought medical supplies. Even more fortunately, despite not having any training in first aid she’s able to patch him up well enough to get on a plane. The film ends with them leaving Indonesia with all the hacker’s stolen money in their bank account. This was truly an awful, awful film. It’s budget was estimated at seventy-million and it opened at five million (And that was probably people on MLK Day mistakenly thinking Blackhat was Selma). Hemsworth’s accent isn’t great. The cuts were bad. The sound was off at times. The movie is too long and doesn’t make sense. There’s a sex scene where nobody takes their clothes off. Speaking of, I think I can conclusively say that the only good thing about this film is the three minutes Chris Hemsworth has his shirt off (At least that got a reaction out of me, albeit a sexually confusing one). This movie is so abominable that on it’s imdb page it says, “People who liked this also liked Taken 3″. I am not making that up. I give this movie an F. It sucks on all levels.