Saturday, 24 January 2015

Film Review: "Blackhat" (2015).

From the first trailer, we hear the lines "This isn't about money. This isn't about politics. I can target anyone, anything, anywhere." This defines what Blackhat is about. This action cyber mystery thriller directed by Michael Mann and written by Morgan Davis Foehl. The film centres on a furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners as they hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta.

Leon Panetta, Former CIA Director, at a Senate Hearing said "...The next Pearl Harbor that we confront could very well be a cyber-attack..." The centres a blackhat hacker committing cyber-crimes. The title "Blackhat" refers to the term that describes a villain (named after the practice of villains in Westerns wearing black hats) that commits cyber-crimes for maliciousness or for personal gain. The film's plot was inspired by the Stuxnet's case, a computer worm designed to attack industrial programmable logic controllers. The Stuxnet is typically introduced to the target environment by an infected USB flash drive. The virus then propagates across the network, scanning for Siemens Step7 software on computers controlling a PLC. In the absence of both criteria, Stuxnet becomes dormant inside the computer. If both the conditions are fulfilled, Stuxnet introduces the infected rootkit onto the PLC and Step7 software, modifying the codes and giving unexpected commands to the PLC while returning a loop of normal operations system values feedback to the user. Stuxnet has three modules: a worm that executes all routines related to the main payload of the attack; a link file that automatically executes the propagated copies of the worm; and a rootkit component responsible for hiding all malicious files and processes, preventing detection of the presence of Stuxnet. Discovered in 2010, Stuxnet ruined almost one-fifth of Iran's nuclear facilities and his origin couldn't be officially identified.

The film stars Chris Hemsworth, Wang Leehom, Tang Wei, Viola Davis and Yorick van Wageningen. The cast gave great performances despite the fact that some performances can be called into question. Especially with Hemsworth and Wei. The characterisation in this film felt weak and underdeveloped like in Mann's 2006 film Miami Vice. Hemsworth and Wei's romance in the film was uninspiring. There was no real chemistry between the two whenever they were on screen together.

With Blackhat, we see that Mann believes in style so much that he has very little belief left over for the characters or situations of his film, which suffers unfortunately to a degree. This belief in style thus drains any notion of credibility from its plot. It boggles everything down to absolute confusion. However, though it may be one of the most confusing films of the year, it is one of the most intelligent thrillers I've seen in a long while. The only other criticism I can give is that the film's only major flaw was a failure to develop the subplot featuring the villain more fully, as well as the relationship between Hathaway and Lien.

Simon says Blackhat receives:

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