|03.04.18||Internet|| Made it a Chris Hemsworth double feature weekend by watching this director's cut of Blackhat. It's a tiny bit hard to judge because this copy was off a television broadcast with fades to black for commercial breaks, but the overall pace and tone felt much more procedural to me. Really I attribute most of the problems I have with this movie to Hemsworth's casting. The physical apsects of this role just don't fit for me and unfortunately, Hemsworth's good looks and unfortunate chicago accent really don't belong either. I guess it's hard because you still need a name big enough to carry the movie, but why have a Holt McCallaney there if Hemsworth can shoot and stab just as well? Parts of this movie (like the new beginning with the soy futures and somewhat decent but still occasionally idiotic computer UIs and jargon throughout the first half) feel like an earnest attempt to explore the world of cyber-terrorism with accuracy and intelligence, but then the movie turns into Miami Vice part 2, which I'm conflicted about. I'm all for Miami Vice part 2... but if you're doing that then why bother with the slower first half stuff?|
My (hazy) memory of the first viewing of this film was that it was just bad. Hemsworth was bad, the story was bad, everything was bad. With this viewing, I'm much more conflicted. Something about the quiet audio mix and procedural plot structure of this cut makes me like it more, but it also upsets me more because I see how this movie was almost good. There are certainly good parts... as always the shootout scenes feel real and tense and I don't know where they're going, I like how we don't hear the main antagonist speak for nearly 2 hours, all of the location photography is gorgeous in a now-hallmark gritty desaturated Michael Mann low-light way... it's just that... oh you know... i have it. if they're gonna play up Hemsworth's physicality, then let's spend more time with him in prison. I really liked how this cut brings him on almost as a secondary character... it feels like the Chinese guy and his sister and the main protagonists, but one shoddy speech about prison being a gladiator academy and doing your own time isn't enough to buy that this guy has combat skills. You need a good five minutes of him in the yard and showing that other people in there respect his strength. And not literal push-ups strength but actual prison-hard toughness. I don't know where that gets jammed in and if it makes the movie better or not, but whatever...
|06.20.15||Netflix|| So it's been 6 years since a Michael Mann movie, more than 10 years since Collateral (the last movie he made that I can call good without any qualifiers), and we get this. It's been 20 years since Sandra Bullock ordered a pizza through the internet... you'd think people have realized that the art of hacking is not shootouts and car chases but dudes sitting alone in rooms for long periods of time not saying anything. So there's an automatic groan factor when you see Thor thunking on a keyboard... running around... shooting people... getting laid.|
But if I try to ignore all that stuff and treat this like an international thriller, there are aspects to this that I like. Mann's trademark composition skills, insane depth of field where you can tell he's like a foot away from the actor's face. The action is expertly presented for the most part. I love seeing Holt McCallany show up... it's just a shame that the script is so dumb.
I still hold out hope that some day the stars will align and we'll get another Mann masterpiece. For the most part digital has caught up with him to where the photography didn't look like garbage (although there were a few scenes toward the end that got pretty rough), he's still interested in stuff enough to make another movie... I'm hoping he finds some property that really clicks some day... like Heat Part 2!!!