The arrival of cyber-thriller Blackhat marks the return of director Michael Mann to the silver screen, this being his first film since 2009's Public Enemies. Unfortunately, much like Public Enemies, Blackhat feels like a watered down version of a film that could have been much more.
The film begins with the explosion of a Chinese nuclear reactor, which is determined to be at the hands of a terrorist hacker, or in hacker jargon, a black hat. The United States and Chinese governments' attempts to track the black hat culminate in the decision to furlough convicted hacker Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), in exchange for his assistance in tracking down and bringing in the terrorists. What follows is an international goose chase featuring Hathaway, FBI Agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis), Chinese security agent Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang), and Dawai's sister Lien (Wei Tang) attempting to apprehend the black hat hacker and his team.
If you've seen any advertisements for Blackhat, you might be expecting an action-packed thriller starring Thor from the the Avengers, directed by the man responsible for this legendary sequence. Unfortunately, what you get is over two hours of painfully dull cinema, an uninspired script, and a group of flat, one-dimensional characters.
The most egregious offense that is committed throughout Blackhat is the way the film absolutely refused to give even a shred of depth to any of the characters, if you can even call them that. This is at no fault of the actors, because not even the finest thespians on the globe could bring any life to such poorly developed characters. So it isn't an action movie like it was advertised; that's fine, but something has to fill these two hours, and it sure as hell isn't characterization. The attempts at drama aren't dramatic, the attempts at romance aren't romantic, and the hacking scenes and their accompanying hacker lingo are entirely too esoteric for the average moviegoer to understand or care about.
To Mann's credit, the film does manage to accurately portray the minutia of hacking. As with most of Michael Mann's films, Blackhat is grounded in realism, from the gritty shootout down to the code writing. Unfortunately, the film can't seem to find a way to hold one's interest on any level. While it is more than competently shot and directed, a complete yawner of a script prevents Blackhat from being anything more than a waste of time.