Blackhat is the Transcendence of 2015. Before you make any assumptions on my tone regarding that, consider this: I thought Transcendence was an okay movie, a borderline-enjoyable DVD rental. Blackhat falls into that category as well, and if I had to give it a number score it’d be a hard 5.5/10, assuming that 5 is completely neutral. So, hypothetically, you’ll be .5 better off for having seen this movie if you decide to.
Blackhat is a bevy of cinematic contradictions: slick but sloppy, original but tired, masterful yet equally amateurish. Technically speaking, the camera work, scenery, lighting and all shots are very well done and definitely give off the big-budget spy thriller vibe. Sadly, none of the scenes really do anything to invest us from a story perspective, making the aforementioned achievements null and void. The plot starts off with a cliche frame but tries to be its own thing by the end, panning out worse than what I believe a phoned-in cliche ending would’ve been. And the masterful aspects of the film, the technical work, are overshadowed by the poor casting choices, soundtrack mooching (they used the main theme from Elysium in this movie, for crying out loud), poor writing and an overly long run time.
Chris Hemsworth is so horribly miscast in this movie that I couldn’t get invested in his character whatsoever. It’s like if they cast Andrew Garfield (or Idris Elba, as the case may be…) as the next James Bond. I mean, it just doesn’t look right on any level, you know? So that attempt at diversifying Chris from Thor failed pretty heavily. Wang Leehom was the shining light in this dark abyss of acting, as he put on a great show (as did Tang Wei, to a lesser degree). Sadly, as the only redeeming actor in the film, of course he has to disappear before the third act kicks in.
The more I let the movie ruminate inside my head, the more I’m drawing a very scary parallel. This movie feels almost exactly like The Bourne Legacy to me, and by that I mean, shit. But I just can’t deem it as bad as that movie. They both do the same thing, one guy and girl on the run together from the government, but I just feel like Blackhat was slightly better to the point where it wasn’t definitively BAD like Legacy was. Maybe I’m just getting softer and want my first movie of 2015 to not be as bad as it might have been.
At the end of the day, it is almost exactly what the term “inoffensive” entertainment means, with the lone contradiction that it goes on slightly too long to be completely devoid of offense to the viewer. If you want a cool Chris Hemsworth vs. Anonymous sort of deal, look elsewhere, as the big reveal at the end is shit (I mean, they shoehorn in a villain at the end and boy, does he take the piss). If you want a cyber-espionage thriller that rises a hair above mediocrity, check out Blackhat.