In order to make good with his former employers, 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.
My hopes weren’t particularly high for Kevin MacDonald’s submarine thriller after seeing the trailer and hearing Jude Law’s ‘attempt’ at a Scottish accent, but I was willing to reserve judgement until I saw the full film. The bad news is that Jude Law’s accent is pretty terrible throughout, but the good news is that it doesn’t derail what is a pretty excellent thriller and a strong overall Law performance. The film introduces us to Robinson (Law), a submarine captain who is laid off by his employers at the beginning of the film, as he begins to assemble a crew to search for gold supposedly hidden in a submarine at the bottom of the Black Sea. This enterprise is funded by a rich backer (Tobias Menzies), and his underling, Daniels (Scoot McNairy), who is sent on the trip with the rest of the crew, made up of half Russians and half Brits. The film touches upon themes of class and the gradual decay of jobs for blue collar workers (as seen through Robinson and his crew), at the expense of working for rich bankers and the like (as seen through Daniels), and whilst it doesn’t explore this as fully as it perhaps could, it makes some valid points about the modern problems facing those without a university education.
The British half of the cast is made up of familiar faces such as David Threlfall, Michael Smiley and Ben Mendelsohn, with Grigoriy Dobrygin the best known of the Russian cast after his key role in September’s ‘A Most Wanted Man’. It’s clear from the outset that tensions are running high between the crewmembers and inevitably in the pressure cooker environment of the submarine, things start to reach boiling point. Kevin MacDonald’s direction is superb, and alongside Law’s strong performance, it drives the film and ekes every ounce of suspense out of the situation. There are a couple of nice twists throughout that keep the audience guessing, and the claustrophobic environment is explored to maximum effect as the crew battle to find the gold and to keep their lives.
Overall, Kevin MacDonald has delivered an edge of your seat submarine thriller, filling his cast with strong character actors and building an unbearable level of tension through his excellent direction. Jude Law is a strong lead, and overcomes a poor Scottish accent with an excellent performance that anchors the movie. ‘Black Sea‘ is a thoroughly enjoyable thriller, and well worth a couple of hours of your time on these cold winter nights.
Directed By: Kevin MacDonald
Starring: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Michael Smiley, David Threlfall, Karl Davies, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Konstantin Khabensky, Tobias Menzies and Jodie Whittaker