IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2717822/
The year is 2010. In Natanz nuclear facility located in Iran, centrifuges ran amok, spinning at abnormal rates, eventually resulting in an incident in which one-fifth of the centrifuges are destroyed.
This, by the way, is a real-life incident. A quick science lesson. To make Uranium-based nuclear bombs, you obviously need Uranium. But not just any Uranium, as Uranium commonly comes in 2 forms. To extract the Uranium suitable for weaponizing, you need a process called Uranium enrichment. And this, is where centrifuges are used.
Now, what has this incident got to do with the Blackhat movie. Guess what, centrifuges are controlled by PLC, or Programmable Logic Controller. Although never admitted publicly, the Natanz disaster was widely believed to be caused by a highly sophisticated computer worm, named Stuxnet, that targets the specific PLC model. This is what inspired movie producer Michael Mann to make Blackhat. The triggering mechanism in the opening scene is obviously a tribute to this incident.
This, and other realistic accounts of hacking, is what makes Blackhat the greatest hacking movie ever – at least according to Wired. As someone who has a background in cyber-security, I totally enjoyed those parts of the movie. Like when a NSA director clicked on a PDF file and got infected by possibly a zero-day attack. Or the social engineering involved in getting a replacement for a coffee-stained printout – leading to a USB-based infection. Even the terminal commands used are proper Unix commands!
Unfortunately, realism alone does not make a good movie. The rest of the elements are nowhere was good. One gets the feeling that the chosen plot location and actors used (Wang Leehom, Tang Wei) are purely for appealing to the Chinese-speaking markets. There’s an absolute lack of on-screen chemistry between Chris Helmsworth, Tang Wei. The action sequences are a joke. The dialogue? Cringeworthy. Oh, and don’t get me started on the plot. Stuffed magazines and sharpened screwdrivers against trained gunmans? Really?
There’s no better way to say this: this movie is a disaster. One gets the feeling that the movie can’t decide what it wants to be, and so tries to be everything and ended up succeeding in none.