Monday, 13 April 2015

Where the Real and the Virtual Meet - Stray Thoughts on Michael Mann's Blackhat.

Is there a veteran filmmaker as underrated as good ol' Michael? He's loved, alright. His movies have immense repeat value. Heat is so accurate in its details that rookie bank robbers use it as their go-to guide. Such devotion to details hasn't won him an Oscar though. But his movies deserve veneration and today I praise Blackhat, his most recent release.

The film concerns about a hacker wreaking havoc on the world and the hunky Chris Hemsworth running across the world to stop him. The film like other Mann's films has won praise for its accuracy. The use of UNIX by hackers programmers. The use of data storage devices to compromise security. Since The Social Network arrived, it's showed us that movies about computer programmers can be sexy and visually stunning.

Now comes Mann and he goes a step further. He concerns himself with how actions in the virtual world have real world consequences.

His opening scene reveals a world interconnected. He zooms into a 'server' room at a nuclear powerplant. We step closer into the world of microprocessors. Information jumping across sectors inside a computer. The special effects are something akin to the original Tron from the aughts. Then, something amazing happens. Mann reveals the worm, the virus, the RAT (Remote Access Tool) RAT enters the system. The RAT looks blue. The rest of the information looks white. The RAT parses through sectors, relaying commands it shouldn't. We see its journey across the system and then when we finally zoom out to the exterior, we see how the RAT has now stopped the cooling system of a nuclear reactor. We see the water around the rotors turning into steam and then the overheated reactor explode.

In the hands of a weaker director, the scene would show a man frenetically typing code. Nine Inch Nails-esque music as the background score. The hacker would lean back in his chair, push his hair back and then enter a command. Cut to - the reactor going boom.

Mann is no ordinary filmmaker. He cares. He says little but reveals a lot. He is a blessing to film geeks and audiences. More on Blackhat if and when I finish watching it tonight. :D

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