Get over the shock of seeing Chris Hemsworth as a keyboard-clicking computer hacker rather than a hammer-heaving Marvel hero and Michael Mann’s stylish cyber thriller Blackhat will soon have you gripped and intrigued.
Hemsworth’s convicted hacker, Nick Hathaway, becomes a player in the film’s labyrinthine plot after being temporarily sprung from prison to join a joint Chinese-US task force that is striving to catch the computer terrorist who has sabotaged a nuclear reactor in Hong Kong and triggered a run on the New York Stock Exchange. What mayhem will he trigger next?
Headed by Chinese agent Chen Dawai (Wang Leehom), Nick’s former college roommate at MIT, his network engineer sister Lien (Tang Wei) and hard-nosed FBI agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis), the team jets from Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Malaysia to Jakarta in pursuit of the elusive and very deadly crook. Along the way, there are devious cat-and-mouse games conducted on computer screens, interspersed with blistering shootouts of the kind Mann patented in Heat and Collateral.
The quieter moments are compelling, too, thanks to some other Mann trademarks – the streak of melancholy romanticism running through the movie, the reverence for nuts-and-bolts professionalism, and the slick and enthralling depiction of the modern world, from glittering cityscapes to the microscopic but no less imposing vistas visible through fibre-optic cables and on the surface of silicon chips.
Blackhat is out now on Digital Download, and available from Monday 22nd June on DVD & Blu-ray from Universal Pictures.
Certificate 15. Runtime 128 mins. Director Michael Mann.