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Check out our review of this Michael Mann thriller about a furloughed convict and his American and Chinese partners who are tasked with hunting a high-level cybercrime network that takes them from Chicago to Los Angeles to Hong Kong to Jakarta.



The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:


Extras:


Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

88



Details:

Studio and Year: Universal - 2015
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 134 minutes
Genre: Thriller/Crime

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, French DTS 5.1, Spanish Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Viola Davis, Tang Wei, Ritchie Coster, Holt McCallany, Wang Leehom
Directed by: Michael Mann
Music by: Harry Gregson-Williams, Atticus Ross
Written by:Morgan Davis Foehl
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: May 12, 2015


"You are no longer in control"


My Take:

Set inside the world of global cybercrime, Blackhat follows released convict Nicholas Hathaway (Chris Hemsworth, Rush, Snow White & the Huntsman.). In a not uncommon move, Federal law enforcement recruits a former blackhat hacker, currently in Federal Prison, to aid a war they will launch against a cyber criminal network, operating worldwide from an unknown base somewhere in Asia. It will take them from Los Angeles and Hong Kong to Perak, Malaysia and Jakarta. As Hathaway closes in, and as unanticipated consequences have made it all personal, he discovers the cyber sabotage of a Chinese nuclear power plant was just the beginning.

Blackhat seems relevant in today’s cyber powered world where criminals with the technical chops could certainly have their way. Seeing the premise, cast and director I saw plenty of potential for an intelligently crafted thriller and at the onset felt that it had possibilities. Alas, as the story progressed it became evident that wasn’t to be the case. Blackhat is a cat and mouse mystery crime thriller with fair levels of intrigue that are dispensed via a style over substance narrative approach ultimately doesn’t hold water.

The problem isn’t a conceptual one as I liked the context of the plot. The characters have solid potential but are never truly fleshed out. There is a rather silly romantic subplot that comes on too strong and too soon which impedes flow. The potential found in the various elements introduced is really quite good however their exploration would bloat an already full runtime. At well over two hours I couldn’t help but feel that too much time was wasted on inane moments rather than devoting more time to shaping a more thoughtful and ultimately intriguing crime/mystery thriller.

At the end of the day Blackhat is passable but not especially memorable and fails to capitalize on its topical subject and decent cast.


Parental Guide:

The rating is for violence, some language and brief sensuality.


AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**



Audio: 84
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Dynamics:
  • Low frequency effects:
  • Surround Sound presentation:
  • Clarity/Detail:
  • Dialogue Reproduction:
  • Low frequency extension * (non-rated element): NA
  • DSU Rating * (non-rated element): NA

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)


  • Resolution/Clarity:
  • Black Level/Shadow Detail:
  • Color Reproduction:
  • Fleshtones:
  • Compression:


Blackhat comes to Blu-ray Disc from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 28 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.5 Mbps.

This is a solid video presentation that boasts plenty of high level detail, bold use of contrast, deeply saturated colors, and three dimensional acuity. Blacks are punchy with good dynamic range and discernible gradational highlights. Visual perspective in low lighting and darkened areas is estimable. The combination gives dark scenes appreciable dimension. Images are snappy, boldly colorful, clearly drawn, eye catching and perfectly suited for the source material. Any softening is innate and strictly limited to the film’s visual style.

The lossless soundtrack doesn’t consistently engage the entire surround platform however it has moments where it energizes the room and reproduces the source elements with aplomb. Dynamic range is very good which lends subtle distinction to low level sounds and gravity to broader ones. A large portion of the film has little need for this as dialogue, atmospheric ambience and musical enhancement is conveyed with little fanfare. However there are several sequences that engage the entire system to briefly produce entertaining and room filling sound that is measurable. I had an issue with dialogue where there were times where it lacked presence and sounded as if it was mixed too low. I noticed on a few occasions (the scene where Hathaway meets with the state’s attorney in the prison room is an example) where dialogue volume went from audible to nearly inaudible. I am not certain of the reason for this but it’s quite noticeable. When this wasn’t an issue dialogue reproduction was fine.


Bonus Features:
  • (HD) Creating reality – 17 minute featurette
  • (HD) The cyber threat – 13 minute featurette
  • (HD) On location around the world – 9 minute featurette
  • Bonus DVD
  • Digital HD Copy





Final Thoughts:

Blackhat is a watchable but ultimately forgettable cybercrime thriller that had excellent potential but suffers from a mediocre and overlong script that left me wanting. It comes to Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment featuring excellent high definition video, fair lossless sound quality and a decent supplemental package that looks behind the scenes. If you’re curious Blackhat is worth a rental on Blu-ray.





Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews



Reference Review System:

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Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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I think I will rent this first. Thanks Ralph :)
 

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Thanks Ralph for the review. I was surprised when I saw this film come out in January...the usual dumping ground for bad to mediocre films. With Mann as the director, I had hoped for much more. Oh well, nobody bats 100%
 

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I find it humorous that of all the movies Hemsworth has been in, you listed "Rush" & "Snow White & the Huntsman." I seem to remember a couple where his character wielded a pretty hefty hammer ... ;)
 

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I find it humorous that of all the movies Hemsworth has been in, you listed "Rush" & "Snow White & the Huntsman." I seem to remember a couple where his character wielded a pretty hefty hammer ... ;)
those arent really his most shining moments to be honest.
 

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I find it humorous that of all the movies Hemsworth has been in, you listed "Rush" & "Snow White & the Huntsman." I seem to remember a couple where his character wielded a pretty hefty hammer ... ;)
I have to say that this is the most BORING movie to date...I literally fell asleep a couple of times during the movie...and the worst part is - its more than 2hrs long!
 

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I have to say that this is the most BORING movie to date...I literally fell asleep a couple of times during the movie...and the worst part is - its more than 2hrs long!
Ralph,

Thanks for another candid review.
I'll stick with a rental, for a viewing with the wife., Something for everyone

  • For me: the cyber crime/internet stuff
  • For the wife >> Chris Hemsworth
 

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More qualified??
Looks like that 'more qualified' reviewers' review is firmly in the minority when it comes to this one.

Washington post review...half star!
http://www.washingtonpost.com/going...181804-9b68-11e4-a7ee-526210d665b4_story.html

How about The Wrap's review:
Michael Mann’s misfire manages to be terribly written, horribly acted (except for Viola Davis) and an assault on the eyes
“Blackhat” is such a massive fiasco that it’s hard to know where to begin analyzing it:"

Or the San Francisco Chronicle:
"'Blackhat’ review: Michael Mann movie bombs"

Or USAToday:
"Blackhat is a tedious, preposterous and incoherent cyberthriller that is anything but thrilling."

I think Ralphs Review is pretty close to spot on.....as usual.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I find it humorous that of all the movies Hemsworth has been in, you listed "Rush" & "Snow White & the Huntsman." I seem to remember a couple where his character wielded a pretty hefty hammer ... ;)
Greetings,

Not meant to especially mean anything other than an association provided by the studio. ;)


Regards,
 

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Discussion Starter #11

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Discussion Starter #12
Ralph,

Thanks for another candid review.
I'll stick with a rental, for a viewing with the wife., Something for everyone

  • For me: the cyber crime/internet stuff
  • For the wife >> Chris Hemsworth
Greetings,

Sure thing and I can appreciate your bullet points! :)

Regards,
 

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I can honestly say that this was the worst movie I have seen in a really long time. I tried to like it, I really did. The only redeeming value in it was Michael Mann's fantastic night shots.
 

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Myself, working in a nuclear plant, I found this movie very comical.

I'll just point out a few things so people can have some perspective. My below comments may ruin parts of the movie for some, so watch first, and then review my hidden spoiler post below.

Overall though, it was an "ok" movie. I watched it just for the entertainment factor since I'm a computer engineer and movies like this peek my interest.

1) They enter the plant through the cooling towers... what..?

2) They go up stairs in the cooling tower to get into the reactor building.. yet it is over 100 yards away and not even connected with walkways. Who designed this place? lol

3) The plant from the outside is a PWR (pressurized water reactor design) but the reactor seems to have an open core, and very far spaced apart fuel bundles. Not accurate at all for a core configuration to produce power. It is some odd combination of a BWR (boiling water reactor design) and test / scientific reactor which doesn't exist.

4) The reactor has a window into to the control room... lol. This is not the case in nuclear plants since habitability of the control room and shielding is top priority for the operators. Plus, you couldn't have that transparent of glass to shield radiation or make up a pressure boundary.

5) At one point when entering the plant, they appear to walk across a catwalk over the open top reactor.. or is this in the cooling tower? Very confusing, because neither of these are realistic.

6) The hacker apparently is able to access the plants offline DCS network (PLC's) controlling a "coolant pump" which would be feedwater. This is not possible from the outside world unless you were physically inside the plant. Plus, nuclear plants have data diodes for other systems so it is physically impossible to traverse upward into networks from outside of the plant.

7) The plant is crippled by a single feedwater pump being destroyed. No reactor SCRAM, ECCS systems actuate, no redundant pumps, nothing. In reality, you'd get a reactor SCRAM, emergency core cooling injection, boron injection, isolation logic would actuate, etc. Where is this plant's design margin? Where are the alternate shutdown panels? It is not designed like a real plant.

8) The on-site emergency seems to be going on for days with workers continually being taken out with burns and serious injuries. This didn't even happen at Fukishima where they had multiple reactor meltdowns. Also, their personal protective equipment is very high tech with heads up displays for vital signs.. and they don't even wear ice vests underneath them for hot environments. In reality, you'd receive a briefing from the emergency facility, coordinate with the site safety director, and be prepared for the task you're performing and know what to expect with the correct protective equipment.. and it isn't high tech. You'll get an Orex suit with a SCBA, a temperature probe, and dosimetry. And since this was apparently a reactor meltdown with the loss of 3 containment barriers (fuel clad, reactor vessel, and containment) the outside personnel would be moved far away from the plant and better contamination management would be in affect. They didn't even do whole body counts when they entered and exited.

9) The main control room scene where he's breaking open the rackmount with an axe isn't realistic. Inside the main control room which is a vital area, you'd be briefed that the keys are somewhere nearby, or it would not be locked. The most likely scenario is that it isn't locked since operators would be doing shiftly rounds on that equipment.

I could go on even further, but that gives you some idea.. :p
 

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Aw Shucks... I was hoping this one would be better. Guess I'll still give it a rental spin though, it's bound to be better than some of the stuff out there right now.
 

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Aw Shucks... I was hoping this one would be better. Guess I'll still give it a rental spin though, it's bound to be better than some of the stuff out there right now.
It's worth a look if you like Mann's films, as others have noted it's the script that is the problem. Mann should stick with his own scripts.
 

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Myself, working in a nuclear plant, I found this movie very comical.

I'll just point out a few things so people can have some perspective. My below comments may ruin parts of the movie for some, so watch first, and then review my hidden spoiler post below.

Overall though, it was an "ok" movie. I watched it just for the entertainment factor since I'm a computer engineer and movies like this peek my interest.

1) They enter the plant through the cooling towers... what..?

2) They go up stairs in the cooling tower to get into the reactor building.. yet it is over 100 yards away and not even connected with walkways. Who designed this place? lol

3) The plant from the outside is a PWR (pressurized water reactor design) but the reactor seems to have an open core, and very far spaced apart fuel bundles. Not accurate at all for a core configuration to produce power. It is some odd combination of a BWR (boiling water reactor design) and test / scientific reactor which doesn't exist.

4) The reactor has a window into to the control room... lol. This is not the case in nuclear plants since habitability of the control room and shielding is top priority for the operators. Plus, you couldn't have that transparent of glass to shield radiation or make up a pressure boundary.

5) At one point when entering the plant, they appear to walk across a catwalk over the open top reactor.. or is this in the cooling tower? Very confusing, because neither of these are realistic.

6) The hacker apparently is able to access the plants offline DCS network (PLC's) controlling a "coolant pump" which would be feedwater. This is not possible from the outside world unless you were physically inside the plant. Plus, nuclear plants have data diodes for other systems so it is physically impossible to traverse upward into networks from outside of the plant.

7) The plant is crippled by a single feedwater pump being destroyed. No reactor SCRAM, ECCS systems actuate, no redundant pumps, nothing. In reality, you'd get a reactor SCRAM, emergency core cooling injection, boron injection, isolation logic would actuate, etc. Where is this plant's design margin? Where are the alternate shutdown panels? It is not designed like a real plant.

8) The on-site emergency seems to be going on for days with workers continually being taken out with burns and serious injuries. This didn't even happen at Fukishima where they had multiple reactor meltdowns. Also, their personal protective equipment is very high tech with heads up displays for vital signs.. and they don't even wear ice vests underneath them for hot environments. In reality, you'd receive a briefing from the emergency facility, coordinate with the site safety director, and be prepared for the task you're performing and know what to expect with the correct protective equipment.. and it isn't high tech. You'll get an Orex suit with a SCBA, a temperature probe, and dosimetry. And since this was apparently a reactor meltdown with the loss of 3 containment barriers (fuel clad, reactor vessel, and containment) the outside personnel would be moved far away from the plant and better contamination management would be in affect. They didn't even do whole body counts when they entered and exited.

9) The main control room scene where he's breaking open the rackmount with an axe isn't realistic. Inside the main control room which is a vital area, you'd be briefed that the keys are somewhere nearby, or it would not be locked. The most likely scenario is that it isn't locked since operators would be doing shiftly rounds on that equipment.

I could go on even further, but that gives you some idea.. :p
Thanks for your valuable input. I'm not surprised of all the blunder when it comes to Nuclear power plants, Hollywood is known for this, and these kind of nonsense could further skew the public's wrongheaded perception of this complex yet very valuable energy source.

Ralph thanks for the review, with all that being said I will check it out as a rental.
 

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Myself, working in a nuclear plant, I found this movie very comical.

I'll just point out a few things so people can have some perspective. My below comments may ruin parts of the movie for some, so watch first, and then review my hidden spoiler post below.

Overall though, it was an "ok" movie. I watched it just for the entertainment factor since I'm a computer engineer and movies like this peek my interest.

1) They enter the plant through the cooling towers... what..?

2) They go up stairs in the cooling tower to get into the reactor building.. yet it is over 100 yards away and not even connected with walkways. Who designed this place? lol

3) The plant from the outside is a PWR (pressurized water reactor design) but the reactor seems to have an open core, and very far spaced apart fuel bundles. Not accurate at all for a core configuration to produce power. It is some odd combination of a BWR (boiling water reactor design) and test / scientific reactor which doesn't exist.

4) The reactor has a window into to the control room... lol. This is not the case in nuclear plants since habitability of the control room and shielding is top priority for the operators. Plus, you couldn't have that transparent of glass to shield radiation or make up a pressure boundary.

5) At one point when entering the plant, they appear to walk across a catwalk over the open top reactor.. or is this in the cooling tower? Very confusing, because neither of these are realistic.

6) The hacker apparently is able to access the plants offline DCS network (PLC's) controlling a "coolant pump" which would be feedwater. This is not possible from the outside world unless you were physically inside the plant. Plus, nuclear plants have data diodes for other systems so it is physically impossible to traverse upward into networks from outside of the plant.

7) The plant is crippled by a single feedwater pump being destroyed. No reactor SCRAM, ECCS systems actuate, no redundant pumps, nothing. In reality, you'd get a reactor SCRAM, emergency core cooling injection, boron injection, isolation logic would actuate, etc. Where is this plant's design margin? Where are the alternate shutdown panels? It is not designed like a real plant.

8) The on-site emergency seems to be going on for days with workers continually being taken out with burns and serious injuries. This didn't even happen at Fukishima where they had multiple reactor meltdowns. Also, their personal protective equipment is very high tech with heads up displays for vital signs.. and they don't even wear ice vests underneath them for hot environments. In reality, you'd receive a briefing from the emergency facility, coordinate with the site safety director, and be prepared for the task you're performing and know what to expect with the correct protective equipment.. and it isn't high tech. You'll get an Orex suit with a SCBA, a temperature probe, and dosimetry. And since this was apparently a reactor meltdown with the loss of 3 containment barriers (fuel clad, reactor vessel, and containment) the outside personnel would be moved far away from the plant and better contamination management would be in affect. They didn't even do whole body counts when they entered and exited.

9) The main control room scene where he's breaking open the rackmount with an axe isn't realistic. Inside the main control room which is a vital area, you'd be briefed that the keys are somewhere nearby, or it would not be locked. The most likely scenario is that it isn't locked since operators would be doing shiftly rounds on that equipment.

I could go on even further, but that gives you some idea.. :p
I see, so you wanted a documentary instead of a fictional story?
 

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I see, so you wanted a documentary instead of a fictional story?
No, just accuracy of the real world since it was supposed to portray an event in the real world. It was just executed very poorly and gives people an inaccurate perception that don't know any better.
A better scenario would have been to have a sat phone modem hooked into the various networks by an insider, and actually have a realistic designed plant.
It could have been accomplished in the same amount of movie time, budget and scene sequences.
 

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