‘Blackhat’ sets the 2015 bar very low

blackhat-poster

Blackhat (2015)

Directed by Michael Mann

4/10  R

The cure for the awards season hangover is to avoid watching 2015 movies for as long as humanly possible. Oops. Now on the chopping block: “Blackhat,” from four-time Oscar-nominated director Michael Mann. But Mann, who has also written his way to an Oscar nom, delegated the screenplay to a first-timer, who, not surprisingly, dropped the ball like the first College Football National Championship was on the line. In what I can only assume is a joke, Rolling Stone reviewer and heretofore personal hero Peter Travers gave “Blackhat” 3 out of 4 stars. More than he gave Oscar nominees like “The Judge” and “Into the Woods.” I think WTF is the only way to describe that. Untitled Michael Mann Project(WARNING: This review is hereafter unapologetically harsh. There…you’ve been warned.)

Blackhat hackers are criminals who hack for personal gain. Whitehat hackers work for government agencies and use their talents to stop them. Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth, with his shirt off as often as he can get away with it) is a blackhat hacker whose prison sentence is cut short when he’s asked to help the FBI (2-time Oscar nominee Viola Davis…tsk, tsk) and Chinese officials (Leehom Wang and Wei Tang) find a wanted cyber-criminal. Two major attacks were just the start. Hathaway will have to use his technological brilliance (or so we assume…nothing is ever explained) and maybe even some more, well, violent methods to take down the world’s most dangerous criminal. Oh, and he falls in love with the Chinese girl. Almost forgot to mention that.

Chris Hemsworth has four movies coming out this year. Let’s just assume the other three will be better than this. The mush-mouth Aussie hunk has only one thing going for him. Okay, two if you count his arms. Or six, if you’re talking about his abs. But let’s just call it one. His jokes aren’t funny; they’re laughable (blame the script, yes, but a good actor could have made it somewhat convincing). He even manages to screw up the fight scenes. They’re dizzying, but blackhat620350forgettable. Thankfully, he keeps his dialogue minimal. And his costars (yes, even Davis) are too bad to even mention.

When I thought “Blackhat” couldn’t be any worse, I saw it squandering time it didn’t have to waste. At 2 hours and 15 minutes, it needed to be cut down, not dragged out. Even when the most complicated tech fixes take mere seconds at the hands of Hathaway, “Blackhat” manages to get off-topic and waste more time. I eye-rolled so hard at the soap opera-worthy romantic subplot, which lovingly places Hemsworth and Tang into each other’s arms after a couple days of working together. After just the second night of passionate love-making, their long-term future was the topic of discussion. Ugh. The line “Don’t invoke 9/11 on me” is spoken, which of course ironically does just that. Buzz words are the weakest way to get someone’s attention. But “Blackhat” seems to happily rely on its shock value. If you think, “Nahh, they won’t do that,” they probably will. Anything to keep your interest, because the acting and the dialogue aren’t going to do it.

For these reasons and many more, “Blackhat” is a very early candidate for 2015’s worst movie. It has set the bar very low. But hey, we still have 350 days to go.

“Blackhat” is in theaters now.

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