Four Reasons Everybody Should Be Excited About Blackhat

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Well, it’s just about the end of 2014. I might put out a list someday looking back on the year, but truthfully the release system for most of the interesting movies is so absymal that I could make a better top ten list out of movies I haven’t seen than movies I have. So the best I can do right now is start looking forward to what’s in store for 2015.

The year is going to be pretty nuts. It’d be redundant to list all the major franchises getting a new installment, but when you have a new Jurassic Park and a new Star Wars in the same year you know something’s up.

But the first movie I’m looking forward to is Michael Mann’s imminent January release Blackhat. Here’s four reasons why you should be, too.

It looks freakin’ cool.

Although the least important point on this list (maybe?), it bears mentioning somewhere that the thing just looks cool. And not in the cookie-cutter way that word manifests in most movies. Heck, looking back through the trailer there’s only a couple of moments that appear to be vying for any sort of epic scale or anything. Mainly there’s just a lot of smart people being serious.

Lucky for us, Mann knows how to do serious right. He doesn’t dip into cheap twists or overly sensationalized action to wrestle the audience into submission; instead, he relies on the grittiness of realism and the intensity of his actors. When he portrays professionals, they act professional. Even when he does manage one of his famous shootouts, the tactics and hardware are way closer to the real thing than the ones found in a lot of other movies.

Furthermore, his movies are actually masculine, not just macho like a lot of other action/thriller fare. Basically, Mann does a lot of things right that a lot of other movies do wrong, or at least cheaply.

It’s insanely relevant.

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Nobody should be surprised in a couple years if we’re drowning in movies that deal with hackers or the fragility of modern communications. After all, a lot of filmmakers’ peers just had their livelihood semi-ruined because of a large-scale cyber attack. Whether it’s related to personal pics of movie starlets or the sum total of a major coporation’s everything, 2014 was the year of the high-profile hack.

Which means Blackhat probably looks even more realistic now than it did when they started production. It used to be that superhackers were the fodder of kid movies and science fiction; now they’re headline news. And I bet that doesn’t stop anytime soon.

So Blackhat might be a little ahead of the curve, timing-wise. Content-wise, given Mann’s insistence on details and insane amounts of research, it’ll likely be one of the best hacker movies around by default. The question is how long it will stay that way. Probably a good long while.

What the hell else are you going to do in January?

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What, watch Mortdecai? I actually might do that, by the way, but it’s a very, VERY distant second.

Michael Mann steps back into his element.

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I never can quite tell what “everybody” thinks of Michael Mann, but I get the sense that most people feel he took a small step down with Miami Vice and a larger step down with Public Enemies. I happen to think that both of those movies have considerable virtues, but that’s a discussion for another time. Blackhat looks to be Mann back in his element.

What is that element? When I was watching Miami Vice again recently, it struck me that a lot of Mann’s movies don’t sound like anything special on the surface. The actual plot of a movie like Heat or Miami Vice doesn’t stand apart from any number of other cop/robber/drugrunner tale. With Mann, the difference lies in the telling.

That’s why, even though Blackhat might technically sound like a riff on whatever genre Live Free or Die Hard belongs to, I absolutely cannot wait to get in a theater and watch it.

What about you? Is Mann still on your good side? Do you plan to check out Blackhat when it arrives?

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