Michael Mann firmly established himself as arguably cinema’s finest purveyor of the noir-tinged thriller throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, which is par for the course when you’re the director of Heat, The Insider, Collateral and Miami Vice. Public Enemies may have been a period piece, but it was still firmly set within the crime genre that had become the filmmaker’s stock in trade, with biopic Ali the only pic he’s helmed in the last quarter of a century that doesn’t fit the remit.
However, Mann hasn’t made anything since 2015’s Blackhat, possibly because he’s still stinging from its failure. The $70 million effort tanked spectacularly at the box office after it couldn’t even recoup $20 million during its theatrical run, while reviews were mixed to put it lightly. The plot follows Chris Hemsworth‘s imprisoned hacker, who finds himself released in order to help Viola Davis’ federal agent track down cyber criminals, before they naturally stumble upon a conspiracy with wide-reaching implications.
It’s a decent setup, but Hemsworth is totally miscast in the lead role, and the actor has admitted in the years since that he wasn’t particularly happy with his performance, either. There are definitely some good ideas in the script, but Mann’s usual sure touch appears to have completely deserted him, although his visual style is still present and accounted for despite the hollow narrative.
That being said, Blackhat has enjoyed something of a resurgence on Netflix, having rocketed up fifteen places on the most-watched list, and it’s now comfortably nestled among the Top 20 most popular films on the platform. It’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, but Chris Hemsworth‘s fans might get a kick out of seeing him play against type.