Black Sea (2014)
“Brave the deep. Find the gold. Trust no one.”
Black Sea (2014)
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Cast: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn
Synopsis: A submarine captain takes a job with a shadowy backer to search the depths of the Black Sea for a submarine rumored to be loaded with gold.
“This time the shit is fighting back!” declares rugged Scottish submarine captain Robinson (Jude Law – Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Dom Hemingway) as he leads his rag-tag band of misfits on a mission to swipe umpty-million dollars’ worth of sunken Nazi gold bullion from under the noses of the Russians. It’s a line that cries out to be used as the movie’s tagline, but alas no, some faint heart went for the soul-stirring rally cry of ‘Brave the deep, find the gold, trust no one.’ Oh, well.
Robinson has spent the past eight years toiling for an oil company up North. His job has cost him his marriage and his son, so he’s understandably a little peeved when his employers make his position redundant. Being a working class Scotsman – albeit, one with a distinctly dodgy accent – Robinson views his dismissal as yet another example of the wealthy haves taking a king-size dump on the put-upon have-nots. So, when a friend and fellow ex-worker reveals the location of a cargo of gold lying on the bottom of the Black Sea just waiting for someone to claim it, Robinson not only sees the opportunity as a means of becoming stupidly rich, but also a way to offer a two-finger salute to those who have consigned him to the ranks of the unemployed.
It might sound odd, but the planning and recruitment stage of the plot has something of a ‘Full Monty’ feel about it, but things soon grow serious once Robinson’s gang has acquired a rusting old sub and set sail for their destiny. The British and Russian members of the crew are uneasy in one another’s company, and their mutual mistrust escalates to open hostility after resident psycho Fraser (Ben Mendelsohn – The Dark Knight Rises, Killing Them Softly) uses Russian leader Blackie’s (Konstantin Khabenskiy – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, World War Z) chest as a scabbard for his knife.
Black Sea has the feeling of an old-fashioned adventure yarn about it, and yet it really shouldn’t be as entertaining as it is. The plot is as old and tired as the sub in which it takes place, and filches many of its best moments from other movies; it’s incredibly easy to spot who, from a stereotypical cast of characters, will survive and who will suffer a watery death, and there’s a blazing psychopath on-board who experiences one of the most puzzling changes of attitude you’ll ever see in a movie. And, of course, Jude Law struggles so hard to hold on to his fake accent you’d think it was dipped in grease. Having said that, there’s something likable about Law; he’s not a great actor – not even a good one, really – but he gives it a go and he isn’t afraid of making a fool of himself. I also admire the bloke for declining to procure the services of some over-priced trichologist to arrest the departure of his hair whilst working in a profession in which looking good is essential.
To be fair, Law gives a decent performance in spite of that accent, although he benefits from being surrounded by rather anonymous types. Mendelsohn does well, but he’s playing the nutter, and they always stand out. Everyone else just seems to blend into the background while they wait for their turn to die. Director Kevin Macdonald does create a fair amount of tension, though, as one disaster follows another – enough to distract us from all the scientific and technological implausibilities, anyway – and sets up a nicely ironic ending.
(Reviewed 1st October 2015)