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Michael Mann
Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Tang Wei
Writing Credits:
Morgan Davis Foehl

A furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners hunt a high-level cybercrime network from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 133 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 11/28/23

• Audio Commentary with Film Historians Bryan Reesman and Max Evry
• US, International and Director's Cut Versions of Film
• “Firewall” Featurette
• “Zero Day Threat” Featurette
• “The Cyber Threat” Featurette
• “On Location Around the World” Featurette
• “Creating Reality” Featurette
• Image Gallery


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-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Blackhat: Collector's Edition [Blu-Ray] (2015)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 30, 2023)

Never the most prolific director, Michael Mann will release his first feature film in eight years via 2023’s Ferrari. For a look at his last big-screen effort, we head back to 2015’s Blackhat.

Due to his antics, hacker Nick Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth) ends up in prison. He earns an early parole after his old code winds up used in cyberterrorist attacks and authorities need his help.

A dual US-Chinese team leaps into action and this leads Nick to Asia. As he attempts to track those behind the assaults, Nick must take increasingly risky moves.

Although the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) made Hemsworth a star, he’s struggled to find success in anything that doesn’t require him to play Thor. Granted, Hemsworth appeared in popular movies such as 2012’s Snow White and the Huntsman and 2011’s Cabin in the Woods, but those felt more like ensemble pieces than true “star turns” for the actor.

Perhaps Hemsworth hoped that a clear lead role in a movie helmed by a well-regarded director like Mann would change that trajectory. Indeed, 2015 looked like the time Hemsworth might separate himself from Thor given that he also starred in Ron Howard’s In the Heart of the Sea that year.

This didn’t work out well for Hemsworth. Sea cost $100 million and earned only $94 million, whereas Blackhat fared even worse, as it took in less than $20 million off its $70 million budget.

Ouch! To reconfirm his reliance on Thor, 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron earned a fortune.

I don’t think anyone can blame Hemsworth for these failures, as he offers a talented guy. I think he actually fares better in comedies rather than dramas or thrillers, but his looks/physique largely place him in these kinds of roles.

I think the issue here stems from my impression that Mann’s past his prime. The filmmaker enjoyed a largely solid run through 2004’s Collateral but with 2006’s Miami Vice, he created a pretty clear misfire.

Matters didn’t improve with 2009’s fairly awful Public Enemies either. Granted, two films does not a clear trend make, but if we toss Blackhat into the mix, we find a trio of duds.

I won’t attempt to judge which of the bunch fares the worst, partly because I’ve not seen Vice or Enemies in years. Regardless, Blackhat turns into a sluggish experience without much to endorse it.

And by “without much”, I mean “I can’t think of anything particularly positive here”. I guess the basic plot shows promise, as the pursuit of the terrorists implies potential excitement.

However, the cyber side of the equation severely impacts the possible thrills, as it requires characters to spend a lot of time in front of computer screens. Blackhat attempts to compensate with occasional scenes in which Hathaway and others bust into locations and try to pin down the threat, but these feel like weak fodder.

And I suspect they lack any grounding in the real world. Perhaps when the authorities locate the hackers, they might send in teams, but I kind of doubt that an operative like Nick would gallivant around the globe with them. I also suspect most hackers don’t look like Hemsworth, but that’s Hollywood.

Not that I enter a movie like Blackhat with the expectation I’ll find something firmly based in the real world. I would like a film with basic entertainment value, though, and Mann fails in that regard.

Part of the problem stems from an ill-defined villain. The movie devotes precious little time to those behind the threat, and without a more compelling baddie to pursue, the chase feels unfocused.

Mann attempts urgency via the endless shots of folks as they tap on keyboards and then pop into buildings to find suspects no longer there. These moves feel desperate, as if Mann knows the movie suffers from an inert plot and he needs to find “tension” wherever he can.

Mann flops, as Blackhat never develops even the most rudimentary form of drama. The plot plods along semi-aimlessly as we await an inevitable climax with the aforementioned ill-defined antagonist.

Perhaps Mann felt our vague understanding of the villain would make the movie more dramatic. In the real world, that holds true, as we would feel more uneasy about terrorists with unclear goals vs. those whose aims appear obvious.

However, what impacts us in reality doesn’t necessarily translate to the movie screen. A film needs a more concrete plot to work, and that just doesn’t occur here.

Hemsworth did nothing to improve his cinematic stock with his performance in Blackhat, and his dodgy Chicago accent didn’t help. However, given the dull nature of the project, I can’t pin its failures on his mediocre performance.

No, the flaws of Blackhat fall firmly on the head of the director. Perhaps 2023’s Ferrari will show that Michael Mann can still make a good film, but this one flops.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Blackhat appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a generally solid visual presentation.

Michael Mann tends to favor a mix of cameras for his movies, and this meant some variation in sharpness, so expect occasional slightly mushy shots. Still, the majority of the film felt fairly accurate and well-defined, so the soft spots didn’t become a notable issue.

The image lacked jaggies or moiré effects, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws remained absent.

Like most modern thrillers, Blackhat favored a palette dominated by teal and amber, though not to cartoony extremes. We also got greens and reds at times. The disc replicated the hues in an appropriate manner.

Blacks felt deep and dark, while shadows appeared smooth and clear. The sporadic soft shots meant this wasn’t a consistently impressive image, but it held up nicely overall.

Similar thoughts greeted the flick’s sturdy but not dazzling DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. The world of computer hacking didn’t really lend itself toward sizzling sonics, so this didn’t come as a shock.

Much of the mix oriented toward general atmosphere, so we got material related to streets and a variety of settings. A few scenes – like a disaster that occurred early in the story – added impact to the proceedings, as did some more violent “action flick”-style beats.

Still, these didn’t dominate, so don’t expect a lot of real pizzazz. Nonetheless, the soundfield used the effects in a worthwhile manner and also spread music around the room in an engaging way.

Audio quality worked fine, with music that seemed vivid and full. Speech seemed natural and concise, as dialogue became easily intelligible and without edginess.

Effects appeared accurate and dynamic, with good range and impact. Again, this never turned into a great soundtrack, but it seemed fine for the material.

The set includes the US (2:13:27), International (2:12:55) and Director's Cut (2:12:08) versions of Blackhat. How do these differ?

Ala IMDB, in the "International" edition, “the description of Lozano and his affiliation with the ‘Los Zapotecas’ gang at approximately 26 minutes into the film is shortened”. Or as you likely figured out due to their very similar running times, the pair remain virtually identical.

As for the "Director's Cut", it moves the opening to later in the film and starts with a different launch to the drama. Other scenes are changed/shifted in minor ways. These give Blackhat a mildly different vibe at times but don't make it a better film.

Note that while both the US and International versions appear on the same Blu-ray, the Director's Cut gets a disc all to itself.

Alongside the “International Version”, we find an audio commentary from film historians Bryan Reesman and Max Evry. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at story and characters, cast and performances, sets, locations and production design, cinematography and editing, music and audio, stunts/action, and their thoughts about the movie.

With this chat, we get a mix of production details, background and general opinions of the film. The guys combine these domains in a positive manner and make this a pretty engaging and informative track.

Some featurettes follow, and Firewall runs 18 minutes, 44 seconds. It provides an interview with director of photography Stuart Dryburgh.

The cinematographer discusses how he got into films as well as aspects of his career and his work on Blackhat. Dryburgh offers an appealing view of the subjects.

Zero Day Threat goes for 30 minutes, 33 seconds and presents a conversation with production designer Guy Hendrix Dyas.

Like Dryburgh, he touches on his movie career and what he did for Blackhat. Like Dryburgh, Dyas brings us an insightful take on his choices.

Next comes The Cyber Threat, a 13-minute, two-second featurette with info from director Michael Mann, mathematician/consultant Christopher McKinlay, former FBI Cyber Division Supervisory Special Agent Michael Panico, author/journalist Kevin Poulsen, and actors Wang Leehom and Chris Hemsworth.

“Threat” investigates some of the fact behind the movie’s fiction, with a glimpse of computer hacking and related issues. While promotional in tone, it still comes with some decent notes.

On Location Around the World spans nine minutes, 30 seconds and delivers comments from Mann, Dyas, Hemsworth, Jakarta key unit manager Tino Saroengallo, and actors Viola Davis and Ritchie Coster.

As implied by the title, “World” discusses the many locations used in Blackhat. Like “Threat”, it comes with some good info, but it also tends to lean too heavily on happy talk.

Finally, Creating Reality lasts 17 minutes, one second and involves Hemsworth, Coster, Mann, Davis, Leehom, nuclear hazard technical advisor Julie Atwood and actor Tang Wei.

With this show, we look at the movie’s story/characters, Mann’s methods and attempts to create believable reality-based elements. We get another combination of useful material and self-praise.

An Image Gallery presents a whopping 16 photos from the film. Yawn.

Despite some potential thrills, Blackhat fails to find a groove. Slow and plodding, the movie lacks even basic intrigue or excitement. The Blu-ray boasts generally positive picture and audio along with a mix of bonus materials. Michael Mann’s talents abandon him with this weak stab at a thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.4444 Stars Number of Votes: 9
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