by / December 2nd, 2014 /

Black Sea

Review by on December 2nd, 2014

 3/5 Rating

Director: Kevin MacDonald
Cast: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn and Michael Smiley
Certificate: 15a
Running Time: 115 minutes
Release Date: December 5th

Despite being intrinsically cinematic, submarine-set movies are rarely found in modern cinema; the most recent examples that come to mind include U-571 (2000), Below (2002) or K-19: The Widowmaker (2002), and the last decent one being Crimson Tide (1995). With the claustrophobic setting to the ever-mounting pressure, placing a group of disparate characters into a powder-keg situation, it seemed like a perfect match for director Kevin McDonald (Enter The Void, The Last King Of Scotland, State Of Play), but a soggy screenplay ends up letting all the air out.

Having just been laid-off from his salvaging job, Jude Law gets word of a sunken U-boat filled with Nazi gold, and he goes about getting privately funded to get a crew together and head to the bottom of the Crimea Sea to retrieve it. It doesn’t take long for each of the actors to settle into their clichéd roles – the crazy one, the newbie one, the shady business one, the reliable one, the quiet one, etc. – and they’re doubled up with their Russian counterparts – who are ALL the crazy one – since they’re riding a Russian sub into the dark waters.

Things start off well enough, as the uniquely war-free setting makes for more of the pressure to be created internally once the crew realise that the less folk they have to share the loot with, the bigger each of their shares will be. It’s not long before your own common sense radar will start to ping (why would they bring an entirely untrained 18 year old, who is also a complete stranger, on to a submarine?), and around the mid-way mark, certain characters do complete 180 turns with warning or provocation, and no matter how talented the supporting cast are – including Scoot McNairy, Michael Smiley and Ben Mendelsohn – it all just becomes too difficult to swallow.

McDonald does create some real tension during the handful of scenes when he lets the action speak louder than words, and the narrow confines of their metal shell is put to good use by cinematographer Christopher Ross, all through the prism of Jude Law’s doggedly unswerving Scottish captain. It’s just too bad that McDonald filled his sub with great actors, and then left them a busted liferaft of a script.