Brow Beat

Michael Mann’s Next Movie Looks Like a 1990s-Era Cyber Thriller

Chris Hemsworth is an elite-level hacker.

Still from Blackhat trailer via YouTube

There’s at least one thing you can always count on when you’re watching a Michael Mann movie: It will be very stylish. The trailer for Blackhat, Mann’s first film as a director since Public Enemies (2009), is no exception: The mood is dark, the explosions are grand, the suits are tailored, the music is pulsating, and the boats are driven under a city-lit night sky.

Blackhat also conjures, perhaps less intentionally, mid ’90s cyber thrillers, when the Internet traveled over phone lines and filmmakers were obsessed with the mainframe computer. (The term “black hat” refers to a particularly destructive sort of hacker.) “Our world interconnected … Our identities vulnerable,” the trailer begins, before quickly cutting to dated-looking shots of what appear to be fiber-optic cables.

Such imagery is the most memorable aspect of the trailer, which sets up Chris Hemsworth as Hathaway, an imprisoned expert hacker who negotiates a deal with the feds. They reduce his 15-year sentence in exchange for helping them catch an infiltrator of at least four major international banks. Hathaway travels around the world in search of the hacker, narrowly escaping grave physical harm. Essentially, it looks like your standard international hacker thriller, but one that plays into contemporary fears about online security and identity theft.

Viola Davis also stars as one of the financial heads hoping to take down the suspect (or at least that’s who her character appears to be; curiously, IMDb doesn’t currently list her character’s name). Whether or not Blackhat proves more memorable than its trailer, it may just make you want to revisit The Net.