Normally I don’t get too excited about films opening in January, but when it’s a Michael Mann movie, that changes everything. His cyber-thriller Blackhat opens this Friday and I definitely will see this on opening night!
I posted the first trailer here a few months ago, and here are five reasons why I’m excited for this movie:
1. Michael Mann – one of my all time favorite directors
Even though I was underwhelmed by Public Enemies, I still consider Mr. Mann amongst my faves and I always look forward to his films. Manhunter, Heat, The Insider, The Last of the Mohicans, and Collateral are some of cinema’s finest films and he always takes his time in making his films.
I love how LA Times describes him, “…Mann, 71, crafts sharp, sleek thrillers with a moody, existentialist bent” and per IMDb trivia, Blackhat also marks the very first Michael Mann movie to be shot entirely in digital. According to Variety, Mann has been up to his eyeballs in the worlds of cyber intrusion and espionage for the past three years, ever since he first read about Stuxnet, the computer worm (widely believed to have been deployed, at least in part, by the U.S. government) credited with creating major disruptions in Iran’s production of enriched uranium.
Sounds like Mr. Mann has done extensive research on the subject, consulting microchips engineers, cyber-intrusion experts, and the likes. I also read that hackers served as on-set consultants during filming.
2. The eerily-timely & intriguing premise
Considering the major SONY hack is still fresh in everyone’s minds, and just yesterday there are reports of U.S. military social media accounts being hacked by Islamic State sympathizers, this cyber-crime premise is as timely as it ever was.
Set within the world of global cybercrime, Legendary’s BLACKHAT follows 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.
According to this NY Times article, [Mann] became interested in a hacker-centered story after spending time in Washington with government cyberdefense officials. “What became apparent is that Washington knew — the White House, defense, law enforcement — how truly vulnerable we are to cyberintrusion.”
3. The international setting, including my hometown Jakarta!
There are no international barriers to cybercrimes and so naturally I’d expect the film would have a global appeal. I LOVE films that are shot on location, especially during the Winter months when escapism is why you go to the movies for! Plus, I’m super excited to see my hometown Jakarta on the big screen, woo hoo!!
Per LA Times, Blackhat was shot over 66 days in the U.S., Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia, and the production used a variety of cameras, from top-of-the-line digital equipment to cheaper, smaller consumer-grade models. There’s supposed to be a sequence where Mann re-created the annual Balinese Nyepi Day celebration with some 3,000 extras. WOW, can’t wait to see THAT!!
Here’s a behind-the-scene video of Man filming in Jakarta:
4. Curious to see if Chris Hemsworth can carry a movie as an action hero
For sure Hemsworth makes a good superhero, but can he be an action hero sans his red cape and Mjölnir? Truthfully, I still see him as more brawn than brain, and so I was quite
dismayed surprised by his casting. I mean, Mann has worked with the likes of De Niro & Pacino, Brian Cox, Daniel Day Lewis, Russell Crowe, and Tom Cruise, so Hemsworth isn’t exactly in those leagues just yet. Besides, most hackers probably don’t have abs and biceps like these …
But I read in this article on how Mann came to casting Hemsworth:
“I first saw Chris in `Thor,’ and I thought he was great. Then I talked to Ron Howard, who had worked with him on `Rush,’ and Ron had a great experience and was kind enough to show me about 45 minutes of the film. Chris was just terrific. Then, I really wanted to meet him. So I went down to Costa Rica, where he was vacationing with his family, and we spent about two days together just talking about the film. I decided, at that point, this guy’s it.”
So y’know what, I’m going to give Chris the benefit of the doubt. Heck if Matthew McConaughey can play an astronaut and fly a spaceship through a wormhole to save humankind, who’s to say a beefcake can’t hack? 😉 I do love the ethnically-diverse supporting cast, starting with the always-excellent Viola Davis, character actor William Mapother (who happens to be Tom Cruise’s cousin), Chinese actress Tang Wei and Taiwanese-American Wang Leehom.
5. Promises to be a dynamic, entertaining, & cerebral action thriller
If there’s a director who could make the convoluted world of cyber-crime cinematic, I’d think that’d be Mr. Mann. I mean, he made a what seemingly tedious story about tobacco whistle-blowing case tense and suspenseful in The Insider and cyber thriller is inherently more exciting than that.
Plus, I think we can expect a good looking film, as most Mann movies are. Here he’s working with cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh, an Oscar nominee for The Piano who first worked with Mann on the pilot for his TV series Luck, noted that as much as possible they shot using available light, whether the dazzling neon of Kowloon or mostly by torchlight for the final confrontation in Jakarta.
It’s been a while since I saw a really good cyber-crime thriller. I mean I enjoyed Sneakers, The Net, and of course The Matrix, but Blackhat promises to be something more visceral and the fact that the premise is ripped from today’s headline makes it all the more intriguing.
Fingers crossed all of this adds up to one heck of a great thriller!
Here’s the latest trailer:
So are you going to check out Blackhat?
41 thoughts on “5 Reasons I’m looking forward to Michael Mann’s BLACKHAT”
It’s funny. I just told my wife I can’t muster any excitement for Blackhat. BUT I will be seeing it because of your #1 reason. I’m a big fan of Mann and I’m always interested in what he is doing.
Hey, glad to hear you’re a Mann’s fan. He’s really my primary reason but I always like a good thriller, so fingers crossed this’ll be good!
Definitely going to see this one! For all those reasons you said up there, but its also because its set partially in Hong Kong and there’s Leehom Wang, one of my favorite Taiwanese artists 🙂
Hi Kim! Ah nice, so we both have our hometowns on the big screen eh? Not familiar w/ Wang I’m afraid but for me this movie is all about Michael Mann 🙂
Jakarta on the big screen?? Woo-hoo! Nice one, Ruth. I look forward to that.
I actually had no idea that this was being released so soon. Although, I’m not that big on Hemsworth and Mann’s latest deliveries have been really hit and miss, I still have high hopes. It would be great to see him get back on form.
Yes Mark, so very excited!! It’s rare to see Jakarta on the big screen, but I think since we’ve got a new, progressive president, hopefully they’ll open door for more filming there.
I wasn’t fond of Public Enemy but overall Mann’s resume have been impressive so yeah, I have high hopes for him here.
Public enemy was massively disappointing and Miami Vive was much the same but Collateral showed that he still had class. Heres hoping! 🙂
Yes indeed, but even w/ some disappointing fares, I still wouldn’t call Public Enemy nor Miami Vice a bad film per se. Let’s hope this is half as good as HEAT then it’ll be excellent 🙂
Yep, same here. Seems strange to be talking about a Michael Mann in the dumping ground month of January, though. Still, a favorite director of mine, and regardless, I’m so there on Friday! Thanks, Ruth.
Hi Michael! Yeah the January release is worrisome but at the same time, I could use a good escapism in the Winter months. Can’t wait to see this Friday!
I’m not as excited as you for the movie but I’ll see just because it’s a Michael Mann’s picture, the only film of his that I missed seeing the theater was Ali. Ever since The Last of the Mohicans, I’ve always make sure to see his work on the big screen. Which brings to another reason why I’m too excited about it, I’m not fan of the digital look on his last a couple of movies. The digital look worked great for Collateral but I thought I was watching someone’s home video movies when I saw Miami Vice and Public Enemies. From trailer of this one, it looks like he continues that trend. But hopefully the actual movie will be good and the digital look of the it won’t distract me from enjoying it.
Y’know I wasn’t as enthused about it the first time I saw the trailer. I think it’s Hemsworth casting that turned me off a bit, but the more I read about it the more intrigued I become. I’m not as fussy about the digital look of it, I just expect a good script/direction and hopefully Hemsworth will prove that he could carry a movie.
Now that most theater has upgraded to high quality digital projectors, I think the movie’s look and feel won’t bother me too much. When I saw both Miami Vice and Public Enemies, the theaters were still using film projector and when you transferred digitally shot movies into film, the result was kind of disaster. Public Enemies was maybe the worst looking movie I saw on the big screen.
Ted let me tell ya, Public Enemies it didn’t look any better on the small screen either.
Okay, I’m sold! I like Michael Mann, too. He’s 71? Wow, still going strong. The acting, the location–looks like a winner. The score? Let’s see how Hemsworth does here….
Hi Cindy! He still looks pretty darn good and agile for his age, doesn’t he? Yes I hope Hemsworth proves worthy of his casting here.
Great work Ruth! Have to admit I’m not very well versed in Michael Mann films but this one sounds interesting. It will be fun to see how Hemsworth takes on a role like this as you say 🙂
Hey Natalie. It’s ok, we can’t always be well-versed on every director right? I do recommend his best films Heat and The Insider, the latter is more of a slow-burn thriller that’s every bit as taut and suspenseful even with not much action going on.
Had no idea this was only just around the corner! It’s one I wouldn’t mind checking out but I dunno when it’s out over here. I like Chris Hemsworth, I think he should be able to handle a lead role like this. He’s also my man crush! Haha!
Ahah, so you’d be one of those rare guys who’d watch this for Hemsworth? I like him but I have yet to think of him as a capable actor, so hopefully he’ll deliver here!
I wasn’t fond of Public Enemy either because I felt the digital look of the film was totally wrong and the story wasn’t that great despite Marion Cotillard’s great performance. Miami Vice I’m thinking of re-watching as I didn’t like it because I thought it was going to be a variation of the old TV show. I’m eager for this one because it’s the right film at the right time in an era of cyberterrorism as it looks like Mann might have something to say as it also looks fucking cool.
Hi Steven! I must’ve been so distracted by the awful script and Depp’s performance I didn’t really notice much about the digital look of Public Enemy, ahah. I actually didn’t like Marion in it, which is rare as I usually love her. I sure hope this one is gonna be better than PE and Miami Vice!
I’m a big fan of Mann’s too. He’s one of the few directors than makes films for adults. His films always look great and he’s a director who knows how to use music really well. I thought Public Enemies was a misstep in his otherwise fine career. Sadly the reviews for Blackhat are coming back with quotes like “For all of the detail the movie throws at you, it is about as realistic as Superman III when it comes to computers, and Hemsworth is just as realistic a hacker as Richard Pryor was in that film.” Brilliant style over substance seems to be the recurring theme in the reviews. May be a renter for me.
Also while I like Chris Hemsworth a lot when I think of a hacker I don’t think of Thor in the role (as you noted with the biceps, beefcake remarks). Computer guys just don’t spend a lot of time in a gym. Even the ones in jail.
Interesting that you said he makes films for adults, he definitely marches to the beat of his drums too, which is what I like about him. I think one of the main issues w/ Public Enemy is the casting of Depp, so hopefully that doesn’t repeat w/ Hemsworth here. I mean, I literally laugh every time I saw his giant biceps!
Aiyah, that quote is really quite worrisome, I mean comparing it to Superman III? Yikes!
Well computer movies are hard to do well. For every Social Network you get The Net, Disclosure and the utterly laughable Hackers. They just try so hard to get “action” on the screen by typing really fast so they can download top secret information on to a thumb drive before the baddie catches them in the act… when really there’s just a lot of point and clicking or guys coding in their pj’s. Not sexy enough I guess. LOL.
Hemsworth can definitely handle it. I enjoyed his performance in Rush, he played it very well. Plus i thought he was pretty good in Cabin in the Woods too; well cast to play the jock with a classic Whedon/Goddard subversive feel & intellect.
Hi truemistersix, welcome to FC! I think he was good in those two films but he didn’t have to carry either one of those films. I hope he can do the job well enough in this one though, fingers crossed!
It’s Jakarta again. Everyone’s going crazy witnessing Hemsworth in a mall. Lol.
Ahah I figure that Paskalis! So did you get a glimpse of Thor during filming? 😉
Haha hardly seen any. Yet, I havent seen any look of Jakarta in trailers.
I hadn’t heard of this but it sounds great!
Well Abbi, check out my review of this later today. Probably just rent this one if you’re still curious.
Fun post, Ruth! Ya know, I’m curious about Hemsworth’s casting as well. I did really like him a LOT in Rush, though, so I’m wondering if he’ll be able to play a smart guy in this. I also agree that a movie about hackers is so timely with what’s been going on in the U.S. lately.
Hello Kris! Well, I’ve posted my review of Blackhat, hope you check it out before you head out to see it 😉
I will definitely have to do that, Ruth! Unfortunately, it seems like the movie is not getting that great reviews . . .
Hemsworth was great in Rush. Did a solid job there. Looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish here. He’s come along way in the last few years I think. With Blackhat and In the Heart of the Sea for him this year, that’s not a comic book film!
Shame that Harry Gregson Williams’ score has been effectively cut from the film – always a fan of his work.
I agree Hemsworth was great in RUSH and the role fit him. Can’t say the same about Blackhat, so sadly my doubts are proven be warranted. I didn’t know about Williams’ score, but the synth music is intact here, Mann usually loves that style.
YEAH! One of my most anticipated of 2015.
Well Mark, hope you check out my review of Blackhat. Hope you enjoy it more than I did once you get to see it.
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I’m going to check it out, but I might wait for the DVD. Since it flopped, the film probably won’t be playing near me for much longer, and I still have several 2014 films I need to see anyway.