Movie Reviews

Published on January 30th, 2015 | by Ian M. Woodington

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Black Sea

Jude Law stars as Robinson, a former submarine captain made redundant after a long career with an underwater salvage company. Left without a pension, and blaming the company for his failed marriage, he learns from a former co-worker that a vast sum of Nazi gold is lying in wait aboard a sunken German U-boat at the bottom of the Black Sea. Upon securing financing and a submarine that has most definitely seen better days, he pulls together a crew of both British and Russian sailors, assuring every man that an equal share of the loot is to be had. Tensions among the crew soon arise and as one character chillingly questions, “What happens when one of them starts to figure out that their share gets bigger, when there is less people to share it with?”

A few too many easy coincidences drive this plot along, but if you’re willing to suspend just a bit of disbelief, there’s a great tale of paranoia, claustrophobia, betrayal and greed beneath the surface. Even through Jude Law’s dodgy Scottish accent, every performance (particularly newcomer Bobby Schofield as the inexperienced Tobin) is top-notch as both he and the supporting cast provide true believability to the disregard and distrust the two groups of men come to have for each other. Between Black Sea and his unexpectedly good turn in Dom Hemingway last year, Jude Law is firmly back on my radar, as he seems to be following in Matthew McConaughey’s footsteps by taking darker, more complex and challenging roles at this point in his career. From playing a father-figure for a boy frightened of what the future holds, to a man possessed of the determination, no matter what the cost, to return home rich, Law hits every note right and is more than capable of leading a cast this talented.

My only substantial complaint is the ending. On leaving the theater, it seemed one of the better solutions to the potential corner the filmmakers were painting themselves into, though the longer its sits, the more I think a film of this unrelenting intensity deserves an ending with some poignancy. Admittedly, I would have found something bleaker to be more satisfying. The easy route out taken in the last five minutes by director Kevin Macdonald and writer Dennis Kelly are a bit of a let-down when compared with the pulse pounding hour and forty-five minutes that precedes it, and for me it will only detract from Black Sea’s memorability.

With the mention of a submarine drama, it is almost inevitable that comparisons to Das Boot will be drawn. For the purposes of reviewing Black Sea however, I have been unable to do so as my only viewing of it was about a decade ago, when I very foolishly had the ambition to see not only the uncut 6-hour mini-series version that was put together for German television, but to do so in a single sitting. I was successful, but only in terms of completing the task. I know it was great and that it is above equal in the genre of submarine films, but at this point I’d be hard pressed to recall even a few minutes of it. It would seem, in this case, that Black Sea got a fair shake to be judged on its own merits (and that I now have a German epic to revisit, albeit in the slightly more truncated director’s cut form this time).

A few nitpicky complaints aside, and in direct contradiction with my take on the abysmally poor Blackhat from the other week, this is a fine example of a well-made, wall-to-wall suspense-filled thriller, and the film I wish I had started the year off with. Released in early December in the UK, where it has received generally positive reviews, it’s unfortunate that it has landed stateside in the January/February season of no-hopes.

4 out of 5

Second Review by Jennifer Fiduccia

Black Sea starring Jude Law is a movie filled with suspense and action. Jude Law was the only name in the cast that I recognized, but in the end, that didn’t detract from the film at all.
I did have to adjust my listening ears to be able to understand some of the heavy accents of the other actors cast in the film, but it did not detract from the film overall either.
Jude Law plays a recently laid off submarine skipper who gathers a crew of misfits to treasure hunt for a Nazi U-boat full of gold bricks.

The movie begins with skipper Robinson (Jude Law) bring laid off after 11 years of faithful service to his company, and his buddies (also either out of work or working in jobs they weren’t ‘meant’ to be in) trying to figure out what to do.

One of Robinson’s best friends mentions he knows of the location of a Nazi U-boat that sank full of gold, and that he has contacts able to finance the expedition.
Robinsons gathers a motley crew of British & Russian hands to help with the job and the adventure begins.

I was on the edge of my seat for most of this film, and literally jumped in my seat on more than one occasion.
The suspense in some scenes had me holding my breath and I was most assuredly NOT expecting ‘the twist’, which I will not give away.

Many films these days are so very predictable, and I didn’t hold huge hopes for Black Sea, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
The only way it was ‘predictable’ for me was that, of course, ‘something’ was going to go wrong, but then, if it didn’t, why would there be a film at all?

I guessed what would happen at the very end, but when it did, it was more of a sigh of relief and a reaction of ‘I’m glad they did that part’ rather than the disappointment of knowing that it was coming.
I would go see this movie again! It had action, suspense, an unexpected twist, and a very good story line.

I would give this movie 4 out of 5 stars.


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