© Universal Pictures International Germany GmbH

U.S.A. 2015

Opening 5 Feb 2015

Directed by: Michael Mann
Writing credits: Morgan Davis Foehl
Principal actors: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Wei Tang, Leehom Wang, Holt McCallany

An atomic energy plant explodes in Hong Kong. Under the direction of Captain Chan (Wang Leehorn), officials gather to solve the mystery behind the explosion. Someone manipulated the computer program and there will be more damage if certain requests are not fulfilled. Who is behind the threat? What’s with the 74 million dollars? Chan recommends they seek the help of his old MIT college friend, Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth), the only person in the world who would be able to follow the computer trail to the perpetrator. Change scenes to a prison in the U.S., where Hathaway is serving a 15-year sentence. He makes a deal: solve the case for his freedom. The prison officials reluctantly agree on paper, although they plan to put him back behind bars when the case is closed. They send him off to Hong Kong, accompanied by a guard, to guarantee that he doesn’t disappear. The team adds new members: a police official named Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) and Chan’s computer-literate sister Chan Lien (Wei Tang). Now we are ready for an unheard-of situation: China and the USA working together for a common cause!

The first half of the film is rather ho-hum in spite of the overflowing charisma of actors Hemsworth and Wang. The computer takes center stage as cast members sit clicking keys, peering at the screen, sighing and rejecting theories. The second half picks up considerably, partly because – dong dong – Lien and Nick develop “feelings” for each other. Also, the team follows a suspect to Jakarta, where the plot takes an unexpected turn and the action rises to a new level. It was filmed on site in Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Jakarta, and Los Angeles. The music fits nicely into the action, bombastic when called for, even exciting. The title comes from “black hat,” a term used for evil-minded hackers. The film stands up to the high quality which director Michael Mann had ready set for his 1995 film Heat. If you liked Heat, you will not be disappointed with Blackhat. (Becky Tan)

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