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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

 

 

 

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: essentially an English language, scene for scene, character for character and detail for detail re-make of the Swedish original film adaptation. The over-stylised James Bond-esque opening credits paired with NIN industrial techno Led Zep remix are fantastic, and promise something fresh/new; unfortunately the rest of the film fails to deliver as it copies almost everything from the original. Most annoyingly, it’s still set in Sweden and full of Europeans talking in ‘svee-deesh’ – it’s like watching a professional dubbing of the original. Character-wise, Daniel Craig is good, but Nyqvist has the edge as the flawed idealist journalist; Rooney Mara is very watchable as Lisbeth Salander, but it feels like a good imitation of Rapace’s portrayal. In all honesty, both pairs of boots were almost impossible to fill. The rest of the cast deliver, but again, have very little room to put any new stamp on the characters. As a stand-alone film, it is good (although it would have been hard to mess up sticking to the original). All is not lost though, as the 2nd/3rd Swedish films weren’t perfect, and have far more room for improvement. As someone who saw and loved the original, this lacks any of the impact that the modern twist on the classic murder mystery had – this just feels redundant and unimaginative. Expected a something better from a director of David Fincher‘s calibre.

Score: 7/10

Review of the original