(director/writer: Michael Mann; screenwriter: Morgan Davis Foehl; cinematographer: Stuart Dryburgh; editors: Joe Walker, Stephen Rivkin, Jeremiah O’Driscoll, Mako Kamitsuna; music: Harry Gregson-Williams, Atticus Ross, Leo Ross; cast: Chris Hemsworth (Nicholas Hathaway), Tang Wei (Chen Lien ), Viola Davis (Carol Barrett), Ritchie Coster (Elias Kassar), Holt McCallany (Mark Jessup), Yorick van Wageningen (Sadak), Wang Leehom (Chen Dawai); Runtime: 135; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Thomas Tull, Michael Mann, Jon Jashni; Legendary Pictures; 2015)
“It’s Michael Mann good in flashes.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A topical cyber-thriller that makes little sense but is superbly helmed as an action pic by Michael Mann(“Ali”/”Miami Vice”/”The Insider”). It’s complexly written by Mann and Morgan Davis Foehl. The battle is between the good hacker (the white hat) versus the bad hacker (he would wear a black hat in a Western). In this one, it takes not only guns and high tech genius to survive, but gamesmanship to ultimately win the battle.
The opening five minute animated shot sets up the save the world plot, as we view a computer worm called RAT (Remote Access Tool), doing its thing. This was the virus used in the 2010 cyber attack on the Iranian Natanz nuclear facility.
Capt. Chen Dawai (Wang Leehom) isthe MIT-trained Chinese military person in charge of bringing down the cyber-terrorist, called Blackhat, who blew up a nuclear power plant in Hong Kong. Needing help, he wants to get on his team Nicholas Hathaway Hemsworth (Chris Hathaway), his noted hacker college roommate, whose hacking exploits got him a 15-year stretch in a federal prison. As a lark, when in college, Chen wrote part of the code for RAT, while Hathaway created it. It seems some unknown hacker refined it and stole $74 million from the Chicago Mercantile Trade Exchange over soy trades. Since both China and America are threatened by this unknown international blackhat hacker, who is so dangerous that he could bring both countries to their knees, the rival countries strike a deal to work together in stopping him. The FBI’s Carol Barrett (Viola Davis) works hard to release the incarcerated Hathaway to help the good guys catch the bad guys. If he does so, he gets a full pardon. If he fails, it’s back to the slammer.
REVIEWED ON 12/31/2015 GRADE: B