Black Sea

February 5, 2015 By

A heist movie with a unique location that raises the tension but is squandered by a plot that grows too big for the capsule it’s put in.

Captain Robinson (Jude Law) is a man who has outlived the usefulness of his profession. Something many can relate to in the age of computers, outsourcing, and increased automation by advancements in robotics. The job Robinson is no longer needed for is that of a submarine captain. Desperate for money, angry at the world over the loss of his job, and insulted at the slap in the face severance he was given, Robinson devises a plan to set himself up for life. Putting together a crew of heist movie stereotypes, only dirtier. The crew is split between English and Russians since the sub is a Russian vessel. The language barrier and bigoted opinions put the entire crew on edge from the start. Robinson finds a rich backer to purchase them a submarine. The plan is for the crew, half for the sub, half divers, to find a sunken u-boat from World War II rumored to be filled with Nazi gold. There is little room for error on this job since the sub could be a collective grave and surfacing could mean capture, or worse.

Jude Law usually plays clean cut intelligent characters. Likable to women. Dashing in a sense. He does a good job of stepping outside his comfort zone to play the gritty Captain Robinson. Robinson is a no nonsense man who has to run a crew of skilled degenerates. Scoot McNairy plays a weasel of a businessman who is forced along on the trip. He is constantly whining and trying to meddle in the plans of the crew and does little more than make tensions higher. The rest of the crew is a mix of faces audiences will recognize and ones they won’t. The characters are more tools to move the plot than three dimensional people to tracking and listing names is not only difficult but pretty pointless.

The tension of the movie is its saving grace. Submarines are uncomfortable, cramped, and foreign to most people to begin with. Adding the tension of two distinct nationalities that seem to have a problem with each other and the fact that most of these men are not exactly in their right mind anyway, all hype up the drama and the tension of the film. None of the actors do a bad job. I stated previously that mentioning them by name was a tedious and pointless endeavor but that was not meant on a slight to the actors. Jude Law’s Scottish accent was strong and in your face. It seemed unnecessary since the film wasn’t shot in Scotland or with Scottish actors. It wasn’t bad, it was consistent, but seemed unnecessary. With a two hour run time the tension building between the men could have been handled with more subtlety.

McNairy’s character is a big part of the film’s problems. Not McNairy’s performance but writer Dennis Kelly uses the sniveling paper pusher to convolute the plot to the point of convenience and unbelievability. It is almost laughable in the exposition heavy scene when the true driving force behind the film is revealed. Without going too far into spoiler territory the ending is one of those that audiences can mostly see coming, but also fall apart if you sit halfway through the credits thinking about a minute beyond the final fadeout.

Black Sea is an interesting heist movie because of the location and the hunt. It is typical in most of its elements and anything beyond that is somewhat laughable. It’s worth checking out on your VOD or streaming service of choice but not really worth the ever increasing cost of a theater ticket.

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Adam’s Verdict 3/5