Black Sea (2015)
Directed by Kevin Macdonald
“Black Sea” proves that there will always be a place in our hearts for submarine movies and Jude Law. The actor best known for movies that released ten years ago gives one of the finest performances of his 20-year career as Captain Robinson, who is chosen to lead a submarine expedition to rescue millions of dollars in gold from the bottom of the Black Sea. With a crew of a dozen men (including Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, and introducing Bobby Schofield), Robinson’s sub will sneak unnoticed past the Russian navy fleet and take the gold (tucked away inside a Nazi U-boat that never made it to Germany) right out from under them. But when the men – half British, half Russian – begin to realize that their share of the wealth gets bigger if there are less men to split it with, the tension builds and the British/Russian divide will lead them to do things they normally wouldn’t do. The prospect of wealth for these men, most of them under- or unemployed, will mess with their heads. But when their cheap, old, rusty submarine (the only one this low-budget expedition could afford to take) gives them mechanical issues 100 meters underwater, the money will be the least of their worries.
Sporting a thick Scottish accent, a fading hairline, and 40 extra pounds (and I’m not talking about money), Law certainly does all he can to look the part of the recently-fired submarine captain ready for a shadowy last gig. He gives a commanding, respectable performance. Honestly, I would be surprised if he doesn’t get some sort of minor award season attention next winter. Schofield has a big role in his first feature film release, and he doesn’t disappoint. Playing the youngest crew member (Schofield is 21, but his character is 17), Schofield has a naivety and curiosity that mirrors what the audience is feeling in these cramped quarters. The thrills reach new heights whenever his young life is at stake. The fun camaraderie that the actors feel is evident, and the chemistry they’re able to give their characters is unmatched.
“Black Sea” is set in the present day, but has the look and feel of a classic submarine thriller. It may utilize some of the classic submarine movie clichés, but it turns them into something new entirely. I haven’t been so happy with the end of a movie in a while. “Black Sea” is the best movie 2015 has offered so far, and I’ll be excited to see the movie that tops it. Strap in for the ride of your life.