Black Sea, 2014.
Directed by Kevin Mcdonald.
Starring Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, David Threlfall, Grigoriy Dobrygin, Jodie Whittaker, Karl Davies and Michael Smiley.
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.
Kevin McDonald – on his fifth film in just three years further impresses with claustrophobic submarine thriller Black Sea. Jude Law, now looking all the more like a bloke down the pub, plays Captain Robinson, a submarine captain taking on a job in order to make good with former employers. This job just so happens to come with a possible pay off of $40 million. Robinson has to gather a team of Scots, well bearded Russians and Ben Mendelsohn, continuing to place emphasis on his place as the go-to-guy to play grotty personalities.
Kudos to Christopher Ross who shoots with a deft sensibility, placing emphasis on the physicality and the claustrophobic nature of the submarine. The sporadic use of CGI adds an unprecedented scale to the black sea but it’s in Ross’ intimate shots of the interior that is most impressive. Or it may be that Jude Law stands tall-both literally and figuratively.
The casting is also spot on. Jude Law is surprisingly effective as the down-in-the-dumps, slightly over-weight, aggressively Scottish Captain Robinson while Jodie Whittaker brings heart to a slightly underwritten role. Scoot McNairy plays a ponce with a further sense of dimension once again placing emphasis on his ability to bring compassion to the ugliest of roles. Michael Smiley does as Michael Smiley does but it’s Russian actor Grigoriy Dobrygin – looking like a member from Pulled Apart by Horses, who is most sympathetic.
Dennis Kelly, who previously wrote the impossibly brilliant Channel 4 series Utopia attempts valiantly, but fails to avoid cliches. Conflict feels predictable, while certain characters – mainly that of Ben Mendelsohn-lack a third dimension. Kelly does however crank up the tension to a nail biting finale and a number of genuinely creepy set-pieces.
Black Sea is a nail biting, well acted and impressively shot thriller.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★