Tuesday, February 17, 2015

On Murder And Malware: Michael Mann, The Crime Drama Kingpin

I've not yet seen Michael Mann's Blackhat, but it sounds interesting as I have serious concerns about cyber crime, cyber espionage and cyber warfare.

Mann is a serious crime writer, director and producer. I've enjoyed Mann's previous crime films, such as Thief and Manhunter. I especially liked Mann's TV crime series Crime Story.

The late Dennis Farina, a former Chicago cop, was very good as the detective squad lieutenant. Anthony Denison was also very good as a gangster, as was Andrew Dice Clay. The supporting cast was also first rate.

The late John Santucci (his real name was John Schiavone), who was a real Chicago burglar, was outstanding as a crook in Crime Story. Mann's film Thief was based on Santucci, and he is shown on the right in the bottom photo.

I was enjoying Mann's HBO series Luck until it was sadly canceled over the death of a horse at a racetrack.

So I was interested in reading Jonathan Bernstein's interview with Mann at the British newspaper the Guardian.

Shimmering neon reflected on the spotless bonnets of expensive sports cars. Sleek speedboats piloted across ice-blue water by Armani-clad criminals with strict moral codes. Bone-weary cops who view their underworld adversaries with professional respect. That’s far from the totality of Michael Mann’s career, but it sums up the stylish world with which his name is synonymous.

For over three decades, the director has painted both small and large screens with beautifully lit pictures that dwell on the violent lives of terse, tough men. Men the calibre of Robert De Niro and Al Pacino in Heat, James Caan in Thief, Tom Cruise in Collateral, and even Don Johnson, who may have sported pastels in Miami Vice, but was a man with a guarded exterior who weighed his words.
Chris Hemsworth, who plays the hacker at the centre of Mann’s latest film, Blackhat, may use codes and viruses rather than glass-cutters and sub-machine guns, but he fits perfectly into the director’s archetype of a male lead: stoic, unsentimental and dispassionate.

Yet real-life events suggest that maybe this archetype isn’t as reliable as it used to be. In the US, Blackhat debuted a week after North Korea temporarily crippled Sony Pictures, an action of massive consequence without a steel-jawed hero anywhere near it. I ask Mann whether he watched what happened to The Interview and experienced a degree of trepidation for his own release. The 71-year-old director waves away the question like a mosquito buzzing around his face.

“On a scale of one to 10 of intrusion, what happened at Sony was about a four,” he says, his Chicago accent still broad. “You have one country’s fighter jets that are being stolen from another country’s defence contractors. There’s malware called Shamoon that overwrites on the actual disc so there’s no way to recover data.” Mann, who showed up to our meeting bearing a stack of official-looking folders, reaches into the pile and pulls out some photocopied documents that delve even deeper into the intricacies of Shamoon. He directs my attention to the document with a steely gaze that implies: “Don’t bother me with Seth Rogen, when Shamoon’s out there”.

You can read the rest of the piece via the below link:


To learn more about Michael Mann you can also read an earlier interview with him at ew.com via the below links:



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