Michael Mann is one of the finest directors working today in my opinion, he rarely missed the mark and always displays a very unique visual style. While much of his work seems to focus on crime related stories, he has also wandered away from the genre with films like The Keep, The Last of the Mohicans, The Insider, and Ali. Ali by the way is an epic masterpiece if you have not seen it. But when he sticks to crime he seems to create genre classics. Heat is still considered a benchmark for action today, Manhunter was the first film to introduce the world to Hannibal Lecter, and Collateral redefined what audiences thought of Tom Cruise. He even reinvented his own television series with the film Miami Vice, which this reviewer believes is criminally underappreciated. His newest film is Blackhat starring Chris Hemsworth.
After a cyber-terrorist attack on a factory in China, the government discovers part of the code used was written by master hacker and current inmate Nick Hathaway (Hemsworth). Hathaway is freed from prison and reunited with an old friend to help track and stop the terrorists before they can strike on American soil. But along with the job comes getting caught up in a power struggle between the American and Chinese governments as well as coming face to face with an arch villain hacker.
The whole technology angle might be new to Mann’s repertoire, but he still manages to create a dynamic action thriller that stands up with the rest of his filmography. Even though much of the story involves characters speaking technobabble that I can’t even begin to understand, Mann keeps the pace quick, the action hot and never alienates the audience. Hemsworth is very good as the hacker even if at first it is hard to imagine someone who looks like him being a hacker with our societal stereotypes in place. But he pulls it off and reminds us that there is more to him than a god with a hammer. Leehom Wang plays Hathaway’s college buddy and although I don’t think I have seen this actor before, he is very charismatic and has great screen presence. The same can be said for Wei Tang who is equally charismatic on screen. I am hoping Blackhat gives them both more opportunities, I would love to see more of them in upcoming flicks. Overall Blackhat is exactly what you want from a Michael Mann movie. Thrilling, visually stunning, authentic and action laden. Highly recommended.