Going in I didn’t expected to fully understand what occurs in Blackhat because I know nothing about hacking and coding, but the lack of a previous understanding of this skill-set is not what makes this film nonsensical. It’s that it’s just bad.
When a nuclear plant is attacked by a hacker with unclear motives, the only response is to bring in another hacker to fight the attacks that are most likely to follow. Chris Hemsworth is obviously that hacker, with his glorious musculature that does little to paint a picture of hours spent in a comfy chair at a computer screen. Seeing as he is in prison for past computer crimes he has ample time to do inverted pushups that have transformed him into a super physical and secret agenty nerd, ready to run in there when the guns are drawn. Make sense? No? K good, cuz it shouldn’t.
Initially Blackhat hopes to amp up the excitement of a story surrounding a whole bunch of typing with some CGI work exploring the inner wiring of a system being infiltrated by brightly lit enemy code. In response to two rounds of this rollercoaster ride through a whole bunch of random shapes thanks to Player 1, Player 2 enters the battle with violent button mashing at the keyboard thanks to something seen in the code. Well played, Player 2.
As invigorating and enthralling as this all is, it is not enough. Time to bring in Hemsworth’s big guns. A little typing here, a little pointing at the screen there, and we’re off on a grand adventure across the globe. Most shows and films at least attempt to bring the audience in with some dumbed down exposition or flashes of bright imagery to explain all that is happening when it comes to the use of computers, but Blackhat is banking on the audience not understanding what is going on to get away with poor storytelling and transitions between one plot point to the next. Maybe they just don’t know what they’re talking about either.
With the simple argument of “Because why not?” little concern is given to the safety of this one of a kind asset that is brought in to stop a threat to the world by allowing him to go out on a date with no chaperone where he can get involved in an impromptu fight in which Thor taking notes from his fellow Avenger by smashing numerous guys with broken bottles and furniture in a Koreatown restaurant, and allowing him to follow in on a raid that results in a lengthy gunfight that kills many. Basically allowing him to do pretty much whatever. Then he is gifted with a girl that has no place in the film. I get that he just got out of prison so any and every pretty girl he sees is probably more than enticing, but Hemsworth not knowing how to fully button up a shirt is hardly enough of a reason for the main female character to throw herself at him, falling in love with this Norse God before the sun sets on their first day together.
This relationship is necessary later because of some events that unfold, but I am of the argument that had the film been written better her character could have very easily been written out all together. Instead the friendship between Hemsworth and Leehom Wang that is presented in one intense bro-hug thanks to a past relationship forged in college could have been built into something much stronger. Wang fought to get Hemsworth out of prison for this, after all, so there has to be a sturdy foundation there to work with. Better yet, Viola Davis could have had a beefed up role, something more deserving of an actress with her talents.
But that’s hoping for too much. And you’re hoping for too much if you’re expecting a good movie out of Blackhat.