Film Reviews

BLACK SEA

By • Jan 27th, 2015 •

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So you’ve just been laid off, your wife left you for a millionaire, and your best friend has killed himself? Well there’s Nazi Gold lying dormant on the ocean floor for you to discover!

After being let go from his job, working as a submarine captain at a salvage company, Robinson (Jude Law) is given the chance to become rich beyond his dreams – take that, wife who left! – when a mysterious patron offers him funding to lead a team of deep sea divers to look for lost treasure under Russian waters. Forced to take the patron’s skittish bookkeeper, Daniels (Scoot McNairy), on board the sub to ensure things go smoothly, Robinson rounds up his team of rough, tough, mentally unstable men, half of whom are Russian – of which only one speaks English. Oh, and a 19 year old boy who’s never been on a submarine. What can go wrong?

Good set design, lighting, and cinematography go a long way in this film, as darkness looms in every frame, giving the film an eerie – almost horror – atmosphere. I half expected some sci-fi/horror element to creep in about halfway through the film, and to be honest I was a little disappointed it didn’t. BLACK SEA’s thrills and suspense work, thanks to the art direction, and a cast of underrated British actors. Ben Mendelsohn, Scoot McNairy, Tobias Menzies, and Michael Smiley all do their best with the dialogue they’re given, but unfortunately, the movie isn’t smart enough to be a believable character study. Instead, it’s just more bland mediocrity that director Kevin Macdonald (THE EAGLE, STATE OF PLAY) has slipped into, though he’s hardly to blame. The problem comes from a place most problems in Hollywood films come from – the script. Dennis Kelly crafts an intriguing premise, but fails to elevate his characters beyond the clichés we’ve all come to expect. Problems arise, not from opposing character morals, but because that’s what needs to happen in the plot. Giggles from the audience at certain ‘dramatic’ lines tell me I’m not the only one rolling my eyes.

Tis the season films studios don’t know what to do with. While the film comes with an amazing cast, it’s just not big enough to splash into summer, and the script isn’t smart enough to make any waves during awards season. But there are far worse movies being made every year, some even coming out this weekend. In high school, this was exactly the kind of movie I would go to AMC at 9AM with friends to see because tickets were only $6 before noon.

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