Subpar Submarine Stuff – ★★½
Kevin MacDonald’s Black Sea is a sea thriller (not sure this is a genre) about a crew of disgruntled former submarine men who set sail in search of gold. Or more specifically Nazi gold, which is lying in a sunken U-Boat at the bottom of an ocean, which a dodgy business-man sends them to retrieve.
The seafarers are headed up by Jude Law as Robinson, with Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, Michael Smiley, David Threlfall (Frank from “Shameless”) and A Most Wanted Man stand-out Grigoriy Dobrygin the most notable names in a big crew made up of stereo-typed Anglophones and Russians. They all have their own speciality and skills, but despite this reliance on each other, these are all grown men who have spent a large part of their adult lives in a tin can, so their inter-personal skills are lacking, meaning tensions run high from the off.
MacDonald’s direction initially appears as tense, gritty and absorbing as you would hope for from the director of Touching the Void, but the energy soon wanes. Unfortunately Dennis Kelly’s script which has some serious pacing issues. The film clocks in at just under two hours and it could, and should, have been a much neater 90-minute story. Despite the rather ridiculous premise, the whole film is actually quite believable at the start and will bring audiences on-board, but it’s let down by a desire for indulging cliched character-types and the push for a big Hollywood ending.
Later this month Jack O’Connell will cap a fantastic year with a part in Unbroken. Bobby Schofield (who plays rookie crew-member Tobin) is also a new, young British actor with a regional – read “not-London” accent – but is worlds away from O’Connell. Schofield is incredibly moany and annoying here, and appears completely out of his depth amongst the better acting talent around him. It’s his major feature debut so no point being too hard on him, but lets hope his next roles are a little more suited to his abilities.
Black Sea would probably play fine as a late-night TV movie but seems to be treading water a little when seen on the big screen.
Released in Irish cinemas on December 5th 2014
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