Black Sea Movie Review – now on video and DVD
Black Sea came and went in the blink of an eye from theaters, but now it has surfaced on DVD and On Demand. Although, it is a far cry from being perfect, this is still a credible and neat little thriller, thanks largely to Jude Law, Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy.
The film opens with a host of men being let go from a marine salvage company. They are given a rather nice check, but these are proud men who want to work for a living. While at the local watering hole, Robinson (Jude Law) is tossing back some adult beverages and one of his friends knows of a job that might fit Robinson. Lead a submarine and its crew to a location in the Black Sea where a Nazi sub rests about 300 feet down that has hundreds of millions of dollars of gold bars on board. He needs a crew of which half will be Russians, since the submarine they will be encased in, is Russian.
It is not long after leaving port, that tensions start to run high. “Each man gets an equal share”, Robinson keeps saying but for some, that is not good enough for some, mainly Fraser (played with particular maliciousness by the under appreciated Ben Mendelsohn). “They’re LAUGHING at us”, Fraser muses (meaning the Russians). He does not trust them but the feeling is mutual. Any excuse to ‘accidentally’ off someone increases the remaining shares, but to what end? They still need enough to sail the boat, too, otherwise everyone dies.
Black Sea is powered by Jude Law’s magnetically commanding performance. He is filled with enough anger to justify the risk of the mission, but he has not lost his humanity. He had a wife and has a son, whom he misses terribly. Robinson even takes it upon himself to try and look after Tobin (Bobby Schofield), an eighteen year old lad who is naive but is not as ‘virginal’ as the rest of the crew thinks he is. The Russians won’t work with Tobin because they think he is a virgin and that is ‘bad luck’ on a boat. Law’s Robinson remembers what he loved about life with his family and thinks this will give him a chance to reclaim that feeling. Law’s performance propels Black Sea. Scoot McNairy as Daniels or the ‘Banker’ as they call him is a seemingly squeamish pencil pusher forced to go along to make sure the job gets done correctly. He is a sniveling worm and McNairy is quite effective. Ben Mendelsohn is terrific as Fraser. One minute you are smiling and laughing at him, the next you are horrified.
Black Sea is far from perfect, though. Shot on a shoestring budget of about 10 million, the film’s visuals are for the most part, good, although there are some underwater scenes that look like a big tank and the submarine is obviously a miniature. The final act seems to sputter as the film plays with the idea that Robinson might be losing his mind, but it does not seem to delve into his psyche too much for that part of the film. Dennis Kelly’s script is peppered with some clever humor, however and Kevin MacDonald’s direction is steady and keeps the film interesting. We get to know enough about these characters to care what happens to them and these characters are well played. I particularly enjoyed Ilan Eshkeri’s score which is quietly efficient and it is available on Amazon as a download. If you can get past some of the films flaws, you will enjoy this thriller. Black Sea knows what is and does it well enough to be solid and entertaining.
Black Sea- *** out of 5
Black Sea is rated R for language, adult situations, scenes of peril and violence
Black Sea- run time is 114 minutes