Rush director-actor duo Ron Howard and Chris Hemsworth have begun filming on their second collaboration, titled Heart of the Sea, which is another period drama that was inspired by real events; in this case, those which served as the basis for Herman Melville's man versus nature literature classic, Moby Dick. However, before that sea-sailing feature arrives in theaters, Hemworth will return to the big screen in a very different sort of "adventure story," known as Cyber.
Cyber is an original cyber-terrorism thriller, as co-written by Morgan Davis Foehl and four-time Oscar-nominee Michael Mann (who's also directing). Foehl is making his formal screenwriting debut here, having previously served as an assistant editor on the TV series Rescue Me and the Adam Sandler comedy vehicles Click and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
Hemsworth offered the following non-spoilery plot breakdown for Cyber, during an interview with Film Futter at the Germany premiere for Rush:
"I just finished it. It's based in the world of cyber terrorism. Basically, something similar to the Chicago Board of Trade is hacked into and it sets off a chain of events around the world, affecting the stock market. And the code that was used to hack into it, my character had written it years before and he happens to be in prison for cyber crime. He is pulled out and offered a deal if he works with a joint task force of the FBI and the Chinese goverment in trying to track this guy down. It starts off in Chicago and ends up in Kuala Lumpur, in Hong Kong and in Jakarta. It's this sort of cat-and-mouse international heist-thriller."
The computer hacker/cyber-terrorist sub-genre has certainly come a ways since the 1990s, back when B-movie thrillers like The Net played on the general public's concerns and lack of familiarity with what was then an early form of this terrifying thing known as the Internet. To be fair, the sub-genre hasn't completely shed all traces of its B-movie origins during the first decade of the 21st century (see: Live Free or Die Hard), but the subject matter now lends itself more readily to the sort of serious and topical crime-films that Mann tends to make (see: Heat, Public Enemies).
Hemsworth mentioned as much during his interview with Film Futter, when he discussed the research he conducted in order to prepare for his role in Cyber:
"It was fascinating. I knew nothing about that world. It's very prominent now as we see what hacking and cyber terrorism can do, like shutting down power grids in other countries... When you do that research, you realize how vulnerable you are."
Computer experts are no longer relegated to being physically-weak minions in the story; nowadays, we get Hemworth and 50 Cent in the Stallone/Schwarzenegger feature Escape Plan being cast as crooked computer specialists. Hemsworth, as it were, has already demonstrated real versatility as an actor, even when he isn't playing Thor, the God of Thunder. In addition, Cyber has the kind of high-pedigree cast - including, supporting players Viola Davis (Prisoners), Ritchie Coster (Luck), Manny Montana (Graceland) and Wei Tang (Lust, Caution) - that bodes well for the project's overall artistic quality.
Question is, will Cyber just be a terse drama/thriller that preys on cyber-terrorism hysteria - or have something meaningful to say about the issue? Mann doesn't always hit it out of the park when he's directing, but his films never fail to aspire to greatness - and Cyber should be (if nothing else) interesting, especially where it comes to how Mann stages high-tension action sequences... involving people typing on computers (imagine The Social Network by way of The Insider). Meanwhile, Foehl has already found additional work as a screenwriter (see: the Mass Effect video game movie adaptation), so that may he a sign that we can expect good things from his script for Cyber.
Cyber doesn't have an official release date yet, but is expected to open in theaters in 2014.