Review: Black Sea – Implausible undersea adventure

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Black SeaThe plot of the new film, Black Sea, seems like a great concept; a sort of Ocean’s Eleven, but at the bottom of the real ocean, minus the smarmy humor of George Clooney. Unfortunately, as the air in this movie’s ill-fated submarine becomes thinner, so does the plausibility of its story.

The bilge water at the bottom of this movie is also mixed with pieces of class warfare malcontent and a plethora of accents that even the keenest European ears among us will have trouble understanding. Nevertheless, this undersea adventure has enough excitement going for it to make it worthwhile.

Jude Law plays submarine Captain Robinson, whom we meet as he is getting a pink slip after devoting several years to an underwater salvage company. But while drowning his sorrows with fellow unemployed co-workers at the local pub, one of his friends mentions a sunken Nazi submarine he knows about, with millions of dollars (pounds) in gold bars onboard. All the friends need is a submarine in order to reach the wreck.

Black SeaThe team finds a wealthy investor to buy a retired Russian sub that is barely seaworthy, and they gather a crew of Russian and European seamen crazy enough to go after the gold, promising each man an equal share after the financier gets his taste.

Undersea chaos ensues as the men go after the treasure and each other, with the Russian Navy on the surface waiting to torpedo them should they be found. Why? I’m not sure.

There are several twists and turns (that I won’t spoil) and plenty of submarine genre tropes in this movie, but the deeper it gets the harder it is to fathom the film’s logic. In the end, if you can suspend disbelief, there are some intensely claustrophobic moments and some great performances that make the journey bearable.

Black SeaLaw does a great acting job as the sub captain, but his accent goes from Scottish to cockney to some dialect-mix of I don’t know what nationalities – and he’s the easiest person to understand in the film (outside of a couple evil American capitalists.)

Black Sea is helmed by director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland), who does a good job handling the drama and special effects, but the script by Dennis Kelly is full of unpatched holes and unexplained mysteries that I can’t mention without giving things away.

If you are a fan of submarine drama, this one is a little bit different, and despite its problems is a decent enough Saturday morning popcorn muncher. Just don’t hold your breath waiting for it to make sense. Grade: 6/10

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About the author

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Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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