…and again with the Nazis. This time around they’re all dead and it’s about their gold. BLACK SEA is a solid, thrilling and smart adventure film. It is, in fact, exactly what adventure films should be; authentic, believable, exciting and it doesn’t rely on filling the viewers time with unnecessary bloodshed, weaponry or endless car chases. Mind you – I have nothing against a good bloodbath or car chase if it serves to enhance the story. Think KILL BILL, or THE FRENCH CONNECTION, not THE EXPENDABLES. BLACK SEA stars Jude Law as Captain Robinson, a submarine captain, and I am more than happy to say that this Jude Law is a whole new anti-metrosexual guy. He reminded me of the young Robert Shaw – strong, angry, piercing and manly as hell. It is a very welcome change which I believe comes with a bit more maturity. Law has a weightiness and lines – though few – on his face which serve him well.
BLACK SEA was directed by the exceedingly talented Kevin Macdonald (THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, STATE OF PLAY, HOW I LIVE NOW) who has many documetary films to hsi credit and that has allowed him to approach this film with a lack of hyperbole. His films have a unique ability to allow the true horror of what trasnpires to affect his audeince in a pure way. You can feel with the characters and that is a rare talent. I feel I can say with some certaitiy that I will never be on a functoning submarine, and I say that with tremendous gartitde. It alone – above the water’s surface – is a frightening and alien world, known only to the people who know how to make it hum. There are only so mnay ways a thriller on a submarine can go, maybe that makes it somewhat predicable, maybe not – but it does not detract from the value and quality of the film.
Captain Robinson (Law) assembles a makeshift crew for a clandestine mission to steal hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold onboard a sunken Nazi U-boat which rests on the floor of the Black Sea. Easy-peasy right? Robinson and his cohort Blackie (Konstantin Khabenskiy), a Russian submarine sailor and small-time crook, assemble a team of half Bristsh half Russian men for the mission. That combiation alone sets the stage for tnesion and conflict which only adds to the volatiel and andgerous natre of what they are abotu to emabrk upon. Seeminlgy impossible they concoct a rationale osunding plan. And it is…until thousands of meters under the sea, trapped in a tin can. Just as you cannot be ‘a little bit pregnant,’ when the shit hits the fan in a sbumarine, it’s a shit monsoon. It is tense, thrilling and just frightening enough to make you tingle. The rush of adrenaline when the sub first dives is wonderful and the underwater scenes, which have phenomenal special effects, present an eerie underground world which bears no resemblance to that with which we are familiar.
Screenwriter Dennis Kelly has multiple TV writing credits in the UK. This is his first feature film and he really brought an elevated and intelligent script to the story. Each of the crew members is distinctive and engagaing, even in dark ways. Like many films whose setting is idiosyncratic, it does not gloss over important details. I for one was enthralled and fascinated by the sonar genius Baba played by Sergey Veksler. Veksler speaks few lines of dialogue, none in english, but he acts with his face and galnce better than many who speak for hours. We get to witness his art and it is fantastic. My personal love affair with Ben Mendelsihn continues with his role as the wildly unstable Fraser, and the addititon of Scoot McNairy as Daniels, the mission’s ‘nanny,’ brings great juxtaposititon and humor to the film. There is nothing extraneous in BLACK SEA and along with a well paced 115 minutes, there are great special effects, valid interpersonal subtexts and a terrific plot twist. Don’t be afraid of the dark…go deep and enjoy the ride.(4 / 5)
Director: Kevin MacDonald
Cast: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Konstantin Khabenskiy, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Michael Smiley, David Threlfall, Ben Mendolsohn, Bobby Schofield
Runtime: 115 minutes
Movie Review Black Sea