Michael Mann is back at it, playing cat-and-mouse with cool criminals and intelligent suits who are both exceptional at what they do. In Blackhat, Chris Hemsworth plays an imprisoned hacker who gets a deal with the feds because he might be the only guy alive who can track down the mysterious hacker who caused the meltdown of a Chinese nuclear reactor.
“They don’t know who [the terrorist] is, where he is, and they don’t know why he’s doing what he’s doing,” Mann says. “There’s no apparent motive. The people they’re working against are high-speed, world-class. They’re dangerous, violent, and that launches our story.”
Mann, who’s famously obsessive about researching the world his characters inhabit, spent years getting to know the cyber-battleground that whitehat and blackhat hackers wage war on from their laptops. His takeaway: What binds the globe together also makes us all increasingly vulnerable. “It’s happening on mechanical pieces of equipment that are sometimes 16 or 20 atoms wide, and the repercussions, in terms of everything from famine to hope to retail food prices, is huge and instantaneous,” Mann says. “That reaction time—that’s the world we live in now.”