Movie Review: Michael Mann returns with the rough-and-tumble Blackhat

Michael Mann, one of the most confident visual stylists to come out of the slick ’80s, went punk in the mid-2000s, getting deep into space-smearing, off-kilter digital camerawork and patchy sound mixes. Mann’s spent most of his career making mass-market art films, but around 2006’s Miami Vice, the art got weird and abstract and rough. It’s as though, having established himself as an impeccable widescreen craftsman, the director had to go in search of new, stranger textures.

Mann’s first feature in nearly six years, the hacking thriller Blackhat is rough even by the standards of its director’s current creative period. It’s the kind of intentionally unpolished work that invites thought experiments of the “if it were directed by anyone else…” variety, even though no one else would—or could—make a movie like Blackhat. The sound design is deliberately erratic, rendering a good fifth …

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