BLACK SEA

★★★

Dir: Kevin MacDonald (2014)

The brilliant documentarian turned film maker Kevin MacDonald amps up the pressure and claustrophobic sea doggedness with this slickly made oceanic thriller in which a group of Brits and Russians take a leaky soviet sub and head into the depths to find a nazi U-Boat laden with gold. A recently redundant sailor in Jude Law has enough chops to pull off an uneven Scottish accent as the sub’s captain lured by a shady business man for one last salvage and a fabulous supporting cast including a psychotic Ben Mendolsohn, a company man Scoot McNairy and an everyman in Michael Smiley keep the tension at pressure cooker levels as they square off against the Russian contingency on board, with both sides questioning the even split of the loot.

Touches of the wonderful Das Boot and Crimson Tide hang all around Black Sea but MacDonald’s knack for sociopolitical comment paints all of the sea men as down trodden lower classes lured by the big one. The Russians (Grigory Dobrygin, Konstantin Khabensky, Sergey Seksler, Sergey Klesnikov, Sergey Puskepalis) the same; The hardest people on earth, face etched by a life in the salt. Law’s Robinson, and a young kid whom he feels compelled to take aboard, anchor the near mutiny on board as the men get closer to snatching a large piece of the pie and MacDonald rarely loses grasp of the action.

Taking us into Treasure of the Sierra Madre territory as the crew separates and Robinson must hold on to his own sanity, Black Sea retains its bite and is a fine addition to MacDonald’s varied cannon of work. Law is the best he’s been in years, looking the part as his good looks approach middle age; It’s a part he couldn’t have pulled off in his popular prime but now his grimace holds water; Which is more than can be said for the ship. This is a fine genre piece, so taut, well acted and engrossing that you’ll forget the wavering script as Robinson and his crew reach the point of no return.

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