Black Sea Review
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It probably isn’t often that you feel claustrophobic in the vast, cavernous setting of your favorite movie theater. But if you join the weathered crew of director Kevin Macdonald’s Black Sea on their tense underwater mission, you could very well feel the walls start closing in.

Black Sea stars a bulked-up Jude Law as Robinson, a submarine captain who suddenly finds himself without a job after spending most of his life at sea. He’s sacrificed everything for his career—even his family—only to be sent away with nothing but a small settlement to show for it. So when a former colleague tells him about a Nazi sub that sank in the Black Sea—reportedly loaded down with Russian gold—he’s eager to set out to find it.

Thanks to a mysterious investor, Robinson is able to find a rusted old sub and hire a crew—half British, half Russian. But jealousy and greed soon lead to disaster.

Of course, it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to make a movie like Black Sea feel harsh and tense and claustrophobic. After all, it takes place far underwater, in an ancient submarine. The setting is all cold metal and gears and dimly blinking lights, populated by a bunch of gruff, burly guys living in too-tight quarters. It’s a dark underground fortress that can easily turn deadly—for any number of reasons.

The tension here comes in all forms: man vs. machine, man vs. the elements, man vs. man. And they all collide in a perfect storm of conflict. And though it incorporates perhaps a skirmish or two too many, the film still has its share of hold-your-breath action and suspense.

In the midst of it all, Law gives another noteworthy performance as the captain who suddenly finds himself filled with regret. After decades of grueling work, he’s left with no job, no money, no family, and no real prospects for the future. This mission, it seems, will give him at least something to show for it—and he’ll be able to help other men at the same time. Even after his plan falls apart, he’s still determined to succeed—at least in some small way—no matter the cost.

The rest of the characters, however, tend to fade into the background—just a bunch of nameless grunts who are driven by their anger, greed, and self-importance. A few of the characters get more screen time than others, but few stand out. And that lack of character development helps to make the film feel longer than necessary.

Black Sea is neither a big, noisy blockbuster nor an award-worthy dramatic thriller. It probably isn’t a film that you’ll want to watch over and over again—and you probably won’t remember much about it a few weeks from now. But this tense underwater adventure is still good for some armrest-gripping action—and fans of Jude Law won’t want to miss it.

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