I was looking forward to seeing Michael Mann‘s latest offering, blackhat, thinking to myself, “here’s a director who knows what he’s doing“. The relatively poor critical reception wasn’t something that overly bothered me; I was hopeful. What I’d forgotten to remind myself was the misstep that was Miami Vice, “conveniently” forgotten in favour of such cinematic fayre as Heat and Collateral and Ali. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
Like that carb-eriffic overdose that sits heavily in the digestive tract or the “full fry” that happily clogs up the arteries, blackhat fed my cinematic malaise, constipating my creative juices to a point where writing was never an option. Drastic action was required – blackhat had pulled my cinematic heart out of my chest and stomped all over it for 133 minutes. I needed to watch a couple of films to restore my faith in filmmaking; an effort to expel the “blackhat experience” from my system. That plus a day spent with my lovely wife and an evening watching my (English) football team play some fantastic football. I’m back on point people!
It didn’t start that well. The first scene involving the “higher-ups” in Chinese law-enforcement was an odd affair. I like films that use the native language of whichever country is being depicted, with the appropriate use of subtitles. It tells us the filmmakers are aware that the audience is intelligent enough to read them. But when said scene appears very poorly dubbed you’ve got to wonder what’s going on. I spent more time looking at the out-of-synch lips than reading the subtitles! Very off-putting. So I put that to one side for a moment, thinking that one early “error” does not condemn a whole film. It didn’t get any better. Here’s the highlights.
- The acting is entirely wooden and wholly unconvincing.
- The overall story and its telling is dull, with clunky exposition.
- I felt the referencing to 9/11 with one particular character was odd and at one point the use of symbolism within this framework was totally out of kilter.
- Michael Mann’s attempt to replicate Heat‘s street-bound gunfight falls completely flat. I wonder if that’s down to him or whether the writer threw it in as an homage to said film in the hope Mr. Mann would eventually direct his script.
- Are we really expected to believe that one of the world’s foremost hackers is also eye-wateringly good-looking and an utter beast in hand-to-hand combat?
- Viola Davis seems to be wearing cinema’s most unconvincing wig.
- Holt McCallany (yes that guy from Blue Bloods) appears to mumble his lines in the vain hope that nobody will recognise him.
I’d say to check your brain in at the door before watching blackhat, but in all fairness whether you do or you don’t, nothing will really help. blackhat is neither worth your time or your money.
As for the films that reawakened my belief in cinema? Here are my One Word Reviews for them, just in case you’re interested.
End of Watch – Mesmerizing
The Way Way Back – Delightful
Thank you for reading 🙂