Black Sea (2015)
Starring: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Konstantin Khabenskiy, Michael Smiley, Sergey Puskepalis, Bobby Schofield
Directed By: Kevin Macdonald
Written By: Dennis Kelly
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 54 min
A tale about working class people struggling to get by. A story about the corrupting influence of money. A film that sets up a mini cold war deep beneath the ocean blue (or Black in this case). One thing’s for certain – Jude Law is too pretty for Black Sea!
This is a mostly humorless affair. A film that assembles a bunch of unlikable characters, and puts them in a sardine can to see what happens. So it’s predictable for the most part, save for some oddly shifting character motivations that make very little sense. Like the money loving murderous psycho turned voice of reason, or the salt of the earth working class hero becoming slightly ‘Gollum-esk’ over large piles of gold. With these transitions being sudden and jarring contrivances to keep the plot moving forward, rather than carefully written character arcs. Not that it matters ultimately, because there’s no one to root for in Black Sea anyway. Seriously, by the third act, I didn’t care if anyone survived this story.
Jude law’s attempts to ‘Scot-up’ and act the rough blue-collar submarine expert were only half successful. And I couldn’t help notice the disparity between the handsome film star, and the properly authentic character actors that surrounded him. Jude law is in his early 40’s and he doesn’t look it either, but we’re supposed to believe he’s been working on submarines for 30 years? I don’t think so. And sure, I understand the desire to have a ‘name’ play the lead, but authenticity should be director Kevin Macdonald’s priority, over building an action drama around its star power.
Dennis Kelly’s script also doesn’t seem to understand the British. As in, where’s the humor? The British are famous for using humor as a coping mechanism. And there are glimmers of this understanding during the first act. But as the situation for these men gets dire, so does their mood, and this subsequently makes this film a real chore to get through.
I personally prefer movies that give me someone to root for. If that’s not a priority for you, you may get something out of this. Black Sea is rated R for language and scenes of violence.
This is a nicely shot piece, and I liked the details inside the sub. A theater screen would service this film well, or a HD screening at home on a nice big TV.
Early on, there are some nice moments of humor. Like when young Tobin (Bobby Schofield) is quizzed as to why he’s walking about with cleaning equipment.
Captain Robinson: What are you looking for?
Tobin: The windows.
Captain Robinson: The what?
Tobin: Well, the lads said I should give the windows a clean before we head out, but I can’t find any.
Captain Robinson: It’s a submarine. There are no windows. What’s the broom for?
Tobin: There’s no chimney, is there?