“Black Sea” – Brave the deep. Find the gold. Trust no one.

I was doing a little “boredom reading” at work the other day and naturally one article led to another and so on. All of a sudden I wound up at some webpage offering up the “20 Most Underrated Films of 2014”. Enter “Black Sea”. For a movie about a submarine looking for gold starring Jude Law with a thick Scottish accent, it was pretty good.Black Sea

Jude Law has never been a favorite actor of mine, nor has he been one I don’t like, he’s just…there I guess. But lately (as in for several years now) he’s been gaining my attention with his acting chops. The two Sherlock Holmes movies were pretty awesome, I’ve seen about half of “Dom Hemingway” and so far so good, and then this commercial just hammered home the point that he’s great…and that I want some scotch. But I digress!

So this website listed “Black Sea” as one of the movies that was underrated, which I had to agree with as I hadn’t heard of it. I read the short synopsis it gave, checked it out on IMDB and decided that this was something I wanted to watch. The story is actually pretty simple. Robinson (Law) is laid off from a deep sea salvage company after 30 some years and wants to stick it to the man. Thanks to an old friend he is able to get the backing from a rich dude to rent a submarine, crew it with half British and half Russian men (not a weird half Brit, half Ruskie hybrid, that’d be an entirely different movie) and search for an old WWII sub that sunk in the Black Sea supposedly carrying a large sum of gold. The Russian navy along with the Georgian navy have been fighting over who the sub (and the assumed gold) actually belong to so the whole sub operation has to be done discreetly. After the men get on board, Robinson makes one mistake in telling the crew that they will all have an even share of the gold if they find it…which means that the less men there are, the greater the shares for everyone else. Oops.

Obviously this seems like a film that’s been done before, and naturally as I wrote that none came to mind, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen this plot device in other films. But “Black Sea” really nails it, and I found myself often holding my own breath as if I was actually outside the sub. The tensions between the two crews really rides high and keeps you guessing what’s going to happen next, and to whom. But the greatest part is that a lot of the chaos arrives without warning, or at least very quickly. The movie doesn’t give you a whole lot of time to think about what “could happen”, more of a “Well that idea isn’t goi-OH MY GOD WHY?!” Plus it’s all underwater, and that’s just one giant nope.

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Why…do you have a gun on a submarine?

Jude Law kicks off this cast as the big name but there are several recognizable faces too, and I imagine that the UK audience probably knows who they all are. We’ve got Scoot McNairy (Argo, 12 Years a Slave), Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises, The Place Beyond the Pines), and Michael Smiley (The World’s End, Black Mirror) to name a few. These guys all did a great job with their roles, starting off hungry for the riches that await them and slowly wanting nothing more than to survive. Really, I can’t stress it enough that this was a great movie. If anything it made me decide that if there’s ever a gold cache at the bottom of the ocean that can be reached only via submarine, I’ll stick to my paycheck.

DIRECTOR’S CUT: If you’re into suspenseful thrillers, check this out. You’ll feel as claustrophobic as the crew. Underrated for sure.

SCENE COLLECTED: This doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the overall plot, but near the beginning of the film Robinson and his Russian friend are about to meet their potential benefactor, and they are told by the man’s assistant, “And whatever you do, don’t ask him his name or how much he’s willing to invest.” Robinson walks into the room and immediately does both. I chuckled.