Review: Blackhat (Michael Mann, 2015)

by Jason Suzuki

It’s the little things in Mann’s latest that make for an enjoyable experience. Experience being the proper word for a film that opens without dialogue, taking its time traversing a visualization of the inner workings of a computer and the networks connected to it. Think of the Star Gate sequence in 2001 except going a little faster and a little bit shorter. This is just one of those little things in the film, another being the time it takes to let us see the final image a character sees as they lay dying: a skyscraper alone against a night sky, upside down due to the character’s POV.

The mood Mann creates for the film, which seems to have been his focus more so than narrative, to the detriment of many film critics, is something that washes over the viewer instead of engaging them. The first major gunfight of the film is a mood breaker, a low point when compared to the finale: a small scale showdown set against a crowded parade in Malaysia, where the parade seems to be a more colorful alternate to a rainstorm while the heroes and the villains clash.

It’s also nice to see Tang Wei find more work outside of China. This, along with the South Korean film Late Autumn and a recent box office success show she’s back on track after her media ban following Lust, Caution.

Is it another Thief? No. But it’s not the misfire that people have been labeling it. People who might have been expecting a standard action thriller or a standard narrative but got this borderline avant-garde, violent, cyber dream instead.

Jason Suzuki is co-editor to Cinema Adrift.