Blackhat convinced me that Hollywood can never make a good hacker movie
If you’re someone who knows even the most rudimentary basics of technology, then you must wince when Hollywood describes hacking as an act of magic, rather than genuine cyber warfare.
Cybersecurity had taken center stage in people’s concerns and curiosity thanks to high-profile incidents like the Sony Pictures hack. The result of this episode of hacking was that copies of four upcoming Sony Pictures films and one recently released film were leaked on file-sharing sites. The personal details of around 47,000 employees were also leaked online.
The aftermath of the cyberattack included the resignation of Sony Pictures’ co-chairman and the United States openly blaming North Korea for the attack. It’s the kind of thing that made headlines and was referenced on TV shows, like the legal drama The Good Wife.
Sony wasn’t the only recent high profile hacker target. Shopping giants Target and Home Depot have both suffered similar cyberattacks. This time around 40 million credit cards were compromised.
It was amidst this chaos that trailers for Mann’s film Blackhat surfaced and sparked viewers’ curiosity. The trailer promised a serious movie that would take you behind the scenes and show you how hackers really worked.
The hype and anticipation surrounding Blackhat has become too much to handle. So obviously I watched Blackhat hoping to see something really cool, but I was deeply disappointed.
The film is over an hour and a half long and in all that time gave only a tiny glimpse of what hackers are really capable of in today’s digital world. The film’s plot is promising – a former hacker (Nick Hathaway aka Chris Hemsworth) serving a 15-year prison sentence is recruited by the FBI to track down a cyber-terrorist. So far so good – now we’re going to have a battle of wits as these two computer geniuses feint and figure out how to outsmart each other, right? Of course, that’s not how the movie happens.
The film begins with the cyber-terrorist targeting a nuclear facility in Hong Kong and then attacking the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Either way, our bad guy uses a malicious piece of code called a Remote Access Trojan (RAT) to infiltrate any computer network, without the knowledge of the end user and wreak havoc in the system. . It’s honestly as bad as Jeff Goldblum infecting an *alien computer* using a Macbook on Independence Day. At least back then you had the excuse that no one really knows what a computer virus is!
Our hero has a Chinese friend who works in the Chinese PLA Cyber Division, and this friend asks the FBI to release Hathaway to help solve the case. The FBI and the Chinese government working together to track down a hacker is about as amazing as any other part of this movie, but that’s not the end.
From this point on, the movie plays out like any other Hollywood movie and completely loses its way. There are high-speed car chases and flamboyant gunfights, until the whole movie feels more like Die Hard 4 than The Social Network’s pirated version.
Wei Tang, who plays Chris Hemsworth’s girlfriend, is supposed to be some sort of computer networking specialist, but her whole role is to be pretty, while the main villain could be replaced by any other cliche greedy villain. in Hollywood, and it wouldn’t. change the movie at all.
Blackhat was supposed to be a cyberwar movie. A basic understanding of how computers and hackers work was expected. What the film showed was something totally different. Unlike the way hackers work in real life (silently and using their brains), our genius hero seemed more interested in solving his problems with brute force and guns (rather than a keyboard and code). ). The villain’s final ending was stabbing, which made it no different than any other film.
What I missed in the film was the effort to highlight the basic software or tools needed for hacking. There could have been a showcase of the ways hackers choose their targets and what their exit strategies are, and how they can deal with the setbacks a real hacker would face.
But Blackhat instead proved that even with the best trailers, what you actually get from Hollywood is recycled magic hackers. It turned out to be just a run-of-the-mill Hollywood action movie with bliss forever once the hero kills the villain. The film’s only bright spot was that it managed to get American and Chinese cybersecurity teams to work together, even if it was just for the Hollywood drama. Like all Hollywood hacker movies in the past, Blackhat failed to live up to the hype and proved that we shouldn’t be expecting a good hacker movie anytime soon.
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