Why can’t Blackhat (or any film) make sitting at a computer look exciting?

Hollywood has become adroit at making the everyday feel spectacular and entertaining. 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was the most fun I’ve had watching humans and apes repair a dam, while Interstellar somehow kept us rapt through history’s longest long-distance flight. But there’s one task we humans do every day that even the best directors struggle to film without sending the audience into a trance: computing.

Last month I had a chance to see an early screening of Blackhat, the upcoming Michael Mann thriller about a hacker released from prison under a bold promise: find the cyber criminal fomenting global chaos and earn your freedom. The good guy hacker played by Chris Hemsworth, also known as Thor, dwarfs every laptop in the…

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