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Blackhat Festival Michael Mann, Chris Hemsworth, Leehom Wang, Viola Davis, Ritchie Coster, Holt McCallany, Yorick van Wageningen, Tang Wei, Andy On, Manny Montana, William Mapother, Archie Kao, Cheung Siu Fai

Blackhat: when a Chinese powerplant is hacked (and blown up) using parts of his old code a l33t h4x0r (‘elite hacker’ to you and I) is released from prison to help the FBI hunt down the threat. Q: how do you sex up a computer attack at the hardware level? A: lots of flashy and swooshy CGI of bits, bytes, circuits, electricity, keyboards, transistors – obviously. Unfortunately, none of the actors really shine, because none of the characters feel developed beyond their required contribution to the story line. Even parts of the plot don’t really work, like the weird romance angle, which feels like it’s just in there to broaden the film’s appeal: strangers becoming sacrificial lovers in a couple of days, just because the film required it. Pushing that stuff aside, you still get a solid Michael Mann film with two big shootouts (a decent one at an airport, and a fucking great one in a shipyard) and a very realistic crime scenario: from the IT Security stuff and hackers evading surveillance, through to the inter-departmental squabbling and larger China-US relations – it all feels authentic. You can see how this film could flop – it’s about hacking / security / information, non of which are popular movie subjects – but I fail to understand the hate/backlash for Mann: he’s one of the few directors that could shoot a dumpster and make it look fantastic; he is pure cinema – abusing colours, locations, and an always-moving camera. Blackhat uses a somewhat wooden story to ask bigger questions about technology and global security – and with all of the slick visuals you’d expect from a world-class director.

Score: 6/10

Blackhat matrix code python PHP Java Michael Mann, Chris Hemsworth, Leehom Wang, Viola Davis, Ritchie Coster, Holt McCallany, Yorick van Wageningen, Tang Wei, Andy On, Manny Montana, William Mapother, Archie Kao, Cheung Siu Fai

 

 

 

Breaking News: takes a hostage situation and shows how the media no longer monopolise the coverage – the criminals use the internet to get their story across to the masses. The opening shot is an unbelievable single take that ends up filming a Heat-esque shoot out – at over 6 minutes long it’s absolutely jaw dropping, phenomenal crane work – planning must have taken weeks. The rest of the film has a late 80s / early 90s vibe… not 2004!!! (Totally corny soundtrack, acting and themes) It’s always nice seeing bad-ass villains bond over cooking too (Fail).  After such an awesome opening the film struggles to match it for the rest of the duration, and the pacing is questionable for the most part. Has some interesting stuff to say about the police and 24/7, always-on-location, news but is hardly the most convincing argument. Would be good for people studying the media, otherwise you’ll find this filed under mediocre Asian cop flick. Other than a few memorable action scenes this is instantly forgettable, and disappointing coming from Jonnie To!

Score: 4/10