Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Bobby Schofield, Tobias Menzies, Michael Smiley, Grigoriy Dobrygin, David Threlfall, Jodie Whittaker, Karl Davies, Konstantin Khabenskiy, Daniel Ryan
Written by: Dennis Kelly
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout, some graphic images and violence
Running Time: 115
Date: 01/30/2015
IMDB

Black Sea (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Sub-Missive

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Black Sea is a good, solid, thrilling submarine movie with one terrible flaw.

Let go from his longtime job at a marine salvage company, submarine captain Robinson (Jude Law) is adrift until he learns of the existence of a sunken Nazi sub in the Black Sea near Russia, which is apparently filled with gold bars. Because of legal tangles, no government can go after it, but a private party can.

Securing funding from a shady source, Robinson assembles a crew of American and Russian sailors and divers, promising them each an equal share of the gold. But fighting among the different countrymen leads to a terrible accident, stranding the sub on an underwater ridge. They will have to work together to get out alive, with the lure of the gold, as well as other, unseen dangers, pulling them back.

Nearly everything is here. Director Kevin Macdonald (of the similarly tense Touching the Void) uses clarity of space on board the sub, establishing physical relationships between characters, and using them for suspense. As in some of the great films about gold, especially Greed and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, greed begins creeping in like a disease, rotting the characters and their moral centers.

Macdonald has assembled a fine cast, with Law giving one of his sturdiest performances, and character actors like Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn following his lead. But right in the center of the movie is a single character brought aboard the sub for no apparent reason, other than to drive the plot in specific directions. The character as written is a shortcut, a device to solve certain story problems quicker. It's an annoying betrayal to an otherwise decent movie.

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