The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Blackhat

Bunny, her brother and I went to see “Blackhat.” Wonderful … another Hollywood hacker film.

The gold standard for hacker films is “WarGames. “Sneakers” is good (it's a lovely character piece) but as far as hacking goes, it's a bit questionable. I loveHackers” but not because it's good, but becuase it's so cheesily bad! (“HACK THE PLANET!)

Other hacker films? “The Lawnmower Man” was just bad. And the only thing I remember about “The Net” was that it starred Sandra Bullock (and yes, I saw this is the theater). The rest? I haven't found them all that memorable (oh, I remember seeing “Swordfish, but the fact that I had to be reminded about it says something about the film—or me, but I digress).

So yeah, another Hollywood hacker film.

I went into the film with low expectations, which was a good thing, as this was better than I expected. Visually, the film is beautiful, and it's very atmospheric (read: ssssslllllllooooooooooooooooowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww) but I didn't really mind it that much (although Bunny did lean over and asked if I felt this was a slow movie). The hacking scenes were probably the best in a long time (not since “WarGames” has hacking been protrayed this well). Realistic command line action (for the most part—some bits of HollywoodOS peeked through, but not enough to be terribly distracting), and some other aspects of hacking that don't get much screen time, such as social engineering and physically being on-site (one scene required the heros to obtain data by physically extracting a hard drive from a computer).

Some of the gun fights were a bit over the top (as Bunny's brother mentioned on the way home—if those guns could shoot through cargo containers, there's no way the heros could have survived) but hey, it's Hollywood. Over the top gunplay is de rigueur these days.

The one big glaringly bad thing about the film is the villian. He's given very little screen time (fifteen minutes top?), his motivation is nothing more than simple greed (no, really. It's not even stated outright what his motivation is, other than he steals $73,000,000 to fund another hack to steal even more (the potential amount is never given) in an odd scheme that doesn't make real sense when you think about it for long). The villian is so inconsequential I can't even find out who played the villian. Nor could I find the name of the villian (the flunky? Yeah, he has a name, but Mr. Big? Nope). But perhaps that's the point? That it's some nameless hacker that can cause physical destruction on a mass scale?

I don't know, but it bothers me.

But is this the best cyber movie ever? For me—no. The best is still “WarGames” (to my knowledge, the only hacker film to inspire an actual hacking technique), followed by “Sneakers” (I just love the character interactions in that film). Heck, given a choice between this and the cheesefest that is “Hackers,” I'll take the cheesefest every time. But aside from those three? Yeah, it's a lot better than Hollywood has tended to make.

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