I have to admit that there was a lot about “Blackhat” and “Legendary” I didn’t understand before I went to see this movie. Some of it, I still don’t understand. But the main thing is, I thoroughly enjoyed Blackhat and now, what I mostly don’t understand is the negative reviews I’ve been reading about it. I thought it was terrific. Fast-paced, lots of amazing graphic animation, exotic locations, and, of course, terrorism by technology. I saw a resemblance to the Bond movies, in a way, because here you have a very powerful person who is creating havoc in the world, havoc which is really a diversion from his actual aim: not to take over the world, but to make an unimaginable fortune by manipulating the commodities market at the expense of thousands of lives. Of course, this is Bond with much more advanced technology, a little rougher around the edges, and a frantic race to track down the hacker and anticipate his real target.
Mann (who co-authored, co-produced, and directed) begins by having an unseen cyber-terrorist set a code in motion which causes a nuclear melt-down in Chai Wan, Hong Kong. This is where we meet our first hero, Chen Dawai (played by Wang Leehom) who leads the Chinese security team. Educated at MIT, Dawai is able to retrieve the RAT code which he recognizes as part of a project that he and his college roommate, Nicholas Hathaway created. Desiring to combine efforts with the Americans, who have also been victims of cyber crime with a similar code affecting the Chicago Mercantile Trade Exchange causing an unprecedented increase in soy futures, Dawai asks FBI agent, Agent Carol Barrett (Viola Davis), to have Hathaway released from prison to help him track the cyber criminals. (Hathaway, played by easy-to-look at Chris Hemsworth, gets into serious cyber trouble when he’s bored, and even in prison, he’s been able to do some damage.) Part of the new international team is Chen’s sister, Lien (Tang Wei), and Agent Jessup (Holt McCallany) who is responsible for keeping tabs on the furloughed Hathaway, now on the outside and wearing an ankle bracelet.
There are lots of angles as the team tries to trace the cyber crime through its server route back to the originator. First, they’re led to Hong Kong and a paramilitary type, Kassar, who involves them in lots of chase action through a sewer system and dead bodies in their wake, but eludes them in the end. Davis tries to get the US to agree to loan the team a proprietary programme called Black Widow to track down Kassar’s server. When the U.S. doesn’t want to play for fear the Chinese will end up with the programme, Hathaway hacks into their system and takes it anyway, establishing that the server is based in Jakarta. His actions cause all kinds of problems: the U.S. tries to revoke his furlough, good guys end up dead, and Hathaway and Lien follow the leads to Malaysia to determine the actual goal and to thwart it!
There are all kinds of wonderful backdrops and swirling, colourful festival images in Malaysia (as you can see in the picture here), lots more cyber intrigue, and a successful outcome which leaves you wondering a bit what Hathaway will do next since he’s slipped his keeper (and his ankle bracelet) and is “on the lam”. Lots of fun!! * * * 1/2