Wednesday, December 03, 2014

“Black Sea”– Movie Review



This week in my movie class, we saw the adventure “Black Sea” starring Jude law. 


When an unemployed submarine captain is offered a job that may make him wealthy, will he be able to enjoy his riches once he learns the dangers of his mission?


Robinson (Law) has dedicated his life to the sea, working his way up to submarine captain; his family would say he was a little too dedicated as it seemed that he lived on the submarine instead of living with them.  It then came as something of a shock when, after years of devotion to his employer, Robinson lost his job and was provided a meager severance package.  While getting public assistance, a former colleague informs Robinson of a potentially lucrative opportunity:  a rich investor is looking to hire a crew for a submarine to sail through The Black Sea in order to recover hundreds of millions in Russian gold from a Nazi U-boat sunk during World War II. 

Assembling a motley crew consisting of both Russian and Great British sailors with varying levels of experience, Robinson arrives with them in Crimea to board their submarine – an ancient vessel that has been poorly maintained in the years since its apparent retirement.  Following some routine repair work to make the sub sea-worthy once again, Robinson soon sets off on his mission.  After a scuffle between some of the Russian and British crew that results in a death, a fire breaks out that severely disables the submarine and causes the loss of even more crucial crew members.  The scope of their mission is now expanded:  not only must they secure the gold, they must also cannibalize the U-boat for parts so that they can repair their own sub and return home. 

With the shorthanded submarine just barely functional and laden with gold bars, Robinson sets sail to rendezvous with their employer where the crew will take their portion of payment and hand over the rest – or so he was originally led to believe.  Robinson becomes aware of the possibility that he may have been double-crossed by the mysterious man who hired him; the result of his efforts may be that he winds up empty-handed and thrown in prison.  To avoid this fate, Robinson orders his sub to sail off in a completely different direction – but when the crew threatens a mutiny, will Robinson survive an insurrection, or will they all perish before control of the craft can be secured? 


An intense and terrific edge-of-the-seat thriller, “Black Sea” will have you guessing its outcome right until the very end.  This is a violent movie with a pervasive dark mood that maintains a palpable sense of foreboding throughout almost the entire time.  In the world of Robinson’s submarine, avarice meets cowardice at any given moment and venality is always one wrong move away.  Loyalty is temporary and a double-cross may only be overcome by a triple-cross.  No one here can be considered trustworthy – nor should they be.  Ever. 

Jude Law, in his role as Captain Robinson, may be the protagonist, but he’s hardly heroic; the characters in “Black Sea” are merely varying levels of evil – partly due to their desperate circumstances and partly due to the inherent feeling of claustrophobia as a result of being cooped-up in the close quarters of a potentially unsafe submarine.  In seeking personal riches, Robinson inevitably finds he must change course and set sail for personal redemption instead.  Visually and verbally, this is a well-told story that won’t allow the viewer a moment to zone-out for fear of missing something vital to the plot. 

Following the screening, our instructor interviewed its director, Kevin Macdonald, who said that “Black Sea” took a month and a half to shoot – two weeks of which were spent on an actual submarine to create a feeling of authenticity for the actors as well as the audience.  Macdonald drew the obvious comparison with the classic movie “The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre”, except that this was set at sea instead of in the mountains.  In order to prepare for his role, Macdonald informed us that Jude Law spent a week in a submarine belonging to the British Royal Navy; he said that Law felt the only thing worse than the sense of confinement in the small space was the unpleasant stench that emanated from 250 sailors who hadn’t bathed in quite some time.     


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