January 13, 2015

Blackhat (2015) ()

by fluffy at 9:37 PM

Okay, remember Hackers?

Take that, remove all the campy fun, add a way-too-serious yet nonsensical and convoluted plot, a monotonous film score, and replace the ridiculous (but fun) hacking stuff with more-or-less accurate (but boring and sterile) stuff.

Then you'll probably have something that resembles Blackhat.

Pros: The hacking was mostly credible, with most of it being more-or-less accurate Linux stuff (with a few UI exaggerations for Hollywood effect and a few things that were a little wrong but not egregiously so, and of course the traditional "let's use impossible IP addresses so nobody tries to hack this for real" thing).

Cons: Everything else.

There was a stupidly shoehorned-in romance that ended up driving the last act. There was a lot of posturing. There were IT professionals being put in the line of fire by a weirdly convoluted chain of command that involved the DOJ, NSA, and FBI.

There were a couple of good, likable characters but they all died at the halfway point (including one who was ambiguously maybe-we-like-him-maybe-we-don't and then of course just as we're starting to care about him, bam, dead).

The filming was also pretty weird. Some scenes were shot in 24 FPS. Some were shot in 60. Some were shot in 60 but pulled-down to 24, badly. Some scenes had so much judder that I thought I was watching it on a computer that couldn't quite keep up (who knows, with digital projection maybe that was the case).

The soundtrack was the sort that was all, "Let's record a real symphony. Oh wait, symphonies are expensive, let's just rent them for an hour and record a bunch of loops to assemble later. Keep the loops simple so they won't have to rehearse either."

Its biggest flaw is just that it takes itself too damn seriously with a plot that doesn't deserve anything of the sort.

Oh, and plenty of egregious weirdness, like, hey, three white guys running around in a crowd in Asia with guns drawn at each other as they walk upstream against this parade I'm in? Nothing suspicious here, let's just all keep on walking like nothing's happening! Oh, this bad guy just punched me in the face? Oh well, I'm just an extra, I guess I shouldn't care too much. Heck, many scenes were full of the sort of stuff where any random bystander would probably be calling the police based on out-of-place people acting ridiculously suspiciously.

Basically this is the kind of movie that I'd watch at home with friends who love riffing on films.

I'd suggest waiting for the RiffTrax. Especially if one never comes out.

On the plus side, while looking for the IMDb page I came across a completely different film with pretty much the same name that actually sounds like fun, but being a crowdfunded indie production it'll probably never be finished.


#16894 Jukka 01/14/2015 06:26 am
    Re: the movie's score, via Reddit:

    (source thread)
    #16895 fluffy 01/14/2015 08:41 am
      I should add that while the mechanics of the hacking were credible, the actual targets of the hacks weren't quite so much. Nuclear power plants probably don't have their control systems hooked up to the Internet, and NSA directors probably know how to tell a phishing email from a regular one. I also suspect the NSA's mail filters wouldn't allow a trojan-containing .pdf to come through, much less be executed on said director's computer.

      It's also a bit funny how all of their "impressive"-sounding dialog is in the form of people namedropping random technology that's been in the news. (But at least it's appropriate technology, but it shouldn't be the sort of stuff that sounds so impressive to these people. "This was encrypted using GPG with at least a 512-bit key!" "He has an onion router!" That sort of thing.)