Michael Mann has been coasting on unearned critical love for so long, the disastrous critical & commercial reception of this cyber-thriller makes for something of an Emperor’s New Clothes moment. (For the record, Mann has ‘disowned’ the theatrical release.) The ‘red herring’ that passes for a plot has a small band of terrorist hackers taking down nuclear facilities & financial networks via keyboard (everyone typing like crazy) when they’re not shooting it out in the street against American & Chinese secret service squads. The real target, once found, plays like a tinny variation on GOLDFINGER/’64. Not that Mann shows much interest in the villainous caper, he’s too busy taking pointlessly showy CGI dives into computer processing chips. Trolling for the next TRON sequel? Chris Hemsworth (aiming for cool/settling for sleepwalking) is the beefy programming genius who lands a get-out-of-jail card to join the government pushback. But he’s too much of a rebel to play by the . . . yawn. Interest picks up as confederates are picked off, but too much of the action is unreadable. And there are similar problems with dialogue that’s either whispered, delivered with a heavy foreign accent or in unintelligible computerese. Turn on the subtitles for help. Better yet, don’t turn this one on at all.
SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: You could say this plays like a parody of a Michael Mann film. But don’t they all?
WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For some pre-historic hacking, sweet, silly & charming, try HOT MILLIONS/’68 with Peter Ustinov & Maggie Smith.