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22 Jan 2015

Hack Job: Chris Hemsworth May Be Dreamy, but His 'Blackhat' Is a Big Bore

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Chris Hemsworth in Blackhat. Chris Hemsworth in Blackhat.

Turns out Chris Hemsworth isn’t all that interesting when you take away his hammer, strip off his cape and disguise that bitchin’ Australian accent.

He’s actually quite dull. At least he is in Blackhat, an atrocious cyberspace thriller from normally reliable director Michael Mann (Heat, Public Enemies).

Hemsworth plays Nick Hathaway, a hacker doing time in a maximum-security prison. When a hack job leads to an explosion at a nuclear power plant in China, authorities let Nick out of prison under the condition that he find the other hacker and save the day. If he fails to find the hacker, it’s back to prison, where his hair will still look spectacular, despite the fact that he does not have access to premium hair-care products.

Upon leaving prison, Nick instantly becomes some sort of super-detective. Joining forces with Chinese former roommate Chen Dawai (Leehom Wang), he can shoot bad guys and beat the crap out of attackers in a restaurant—even though he lacks any real training. I guess a few years in a big prison automatically make you sharp with hand-to-hand combat and a Glock. (Fact: Most hackers lack Nick’s innate super-detective skills, but they will kick your ass in Call of Duty and Snickers-eating contests.)

Mann and Hemsworth make the fatal error of having Nick be an American. This means Hemsworth must don an American accent, something he cannot do without sounding really, really stupid most of the time. There are moments when he sounds Midwestern, and others when he sounds like he’s from Long Island. On occasion, he also sounds like he’s from Australia, because he can’t do an American accent.

This is one of those movies in which actors often mouth words that are different from the ones we are hearing, because of sloppy looping and editing. One or two slips in a movie is understandable, but this one looks almost like it was dubbed in another language at times.

It’s also a movie where … everybody … speaks … really … slowly … and … growly. The pace is sluggish, and the likes of Viola Davis (who plays some sort of FBI agent or something) look annoyed the whole damn time. The movie clocks in at 133 minutes. I would say there were actually about 30 minutes of plot-worthy material. Somebody seriously needed to light a fire under this film’s ass.

As many film aficionados know, Mann often includes super-cool shootouts in his movies. This film has a couple, and they’re the only parts truly worth watching.

As for the subject matter, Blackhat feels old before it even starts. When is somebody going to figure out that the sight and sound of somebody typing away on a computer keyboard is not something we want to see? People type a lot in this movie, which is so dynamic I just can’t stand it!

Nick gets a love interest, because a movie in which somebody doesn’t try to make out with Thor is implausible. It takes something like 15 minutes of knowing each other for Nick and Chen Lien (Wei Tang) to get it on. Who can blame her, really? Hemsworth’s shirt is often unbuttoned, revealing his Marvel-worthy chest. This is accompanied by those heavenly bangs hanging down the side of his head in strands of just the right length. Oh … I’m getting distracted.

It’s early, but I hated Blackhat enough to suspect it will make my list of the worst films of 2015. If it doesn’t, then bravo to those 10 idiots who will manage to make movies more moronic over the next 11 months. That, in a sad way, would be a significant achievement.

Blackhat is playing at theaters across the valley.

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