In Reviews

January 22nd, 2017




Director Kevin Macdonald’s (The Last King of Scotland) newest film, Black Sea is the first movie of 2015 that I will recommend to all of my readers. In the history of submarine films, we typically see movies that involve wars, mixed with bull headed captains, in films such as Crimson Tide or The Hunt for Red October. Here is a movie that involves current themes, such as unemployment, greed, the desire to support our families, all while a group of men search for lost Nazi gold. Viewers will be on the edge of their seats.

Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley) stars as Robinson, a submarine captain who was recently fired from his job at a major submarine corporation. He is given his severance; he pleads his case on how he lost his family to his job, and is sent on his way. While pouting in his beer at a bar, a former co-worker enlightens him about a sunken Nazi U-Boat that their former company found at the bottom of the Black Sea. But this was not just a pile of rust and rubble; this is a sub that contains 182 million dollars worth in gold. That is more than enough for him to convince a financer (Scoot McNairy) and gather a collection of 12 men (British and Russian) to join him on the search. Putting greedy men, thousands of miles below the sea is like mixing together twelve beta fish.
It is something about submarines for a location. It creates this compact, intense dramatic environment, and Macdonald does a superb job here. The vessel that our divers inhabit is a rusted up old clunker, where the inside looks as if every knob, gauge, or periscope is dripping with yellow grease. I felt as if I was watching a submarine version of Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi drama Alien. Although that may seem like an odd comparison, the tight quarters, the collection of different characters, and a hidden agenda from the people funding the mission, gave me many similarities. Like the ’79 classic, this is a film I will revisit.

A catalyst must start a fire, and it comes in the form of the deep sea diver Fraser (played by the always good- Ben Mendelsohn), who asks, “how come the Russians get a cut of our share?” A fight between the shipmates turns violent, and that will only be the first of many incidents putting the crew at risk. As they descend further and further to their treasure, the stakes become riskier, and Robinson will sink deeper into his obsession of proving he is more than just middle class. He will risk his life and his crews to show that he is a good father and captain.

Black Sea is a superbly crafted piece of film. The set designs of tightly squeezed rooms, camera shots that weave in and out of the subs quarters, a calculated collection of callused handed marine men and an excellent performance from an under-appreciated Jude Law. It all makes for a thrilling journey to the bottom of the sea.

3 ½ Stars

Written by: Leo Brady

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