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Black Sea - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Black Sea
Directing: B
Acting: B
Writing: C+
Cinematography: B+
Editing: B+

Nothing's going to fly over your head in Black Sea, a conventional mainstream thriller if there ever was one. The thing that sets this movie apart is its setting mostly inside a submarine, in the depths of the Black Sea (hence the obvious title), making skilled use of desperation and claustrophobia.

Certainly many movies have already been made about being on a submarine, and with much more depth than the story here, but it's been a while. This one feels very much like a throwback, right down to Jude Law as the star and only recognizable actor in the cast. There's no need to rush out to see this one in the theatre, but once it's on TV you should have a good time watching it with Grandpa.

The story, naturally, is preposterous and ridiculously oversimplified. Captain Robinson (Law) has just been fired from his job, and goes out with other unemployed friends to commiserate. This is how he learns that the wreckage of a Nazi submarine in the Black Sea contains many millions in gold, and within minutes we see him with his assembled team of nine men intent on going to snatch their shared fortune.

To Black Sea's credit, there is no cartoonish villain here. This is much more of an action-adventure dealing with men in cramped spaces who must contend with each other's resentment and greed. It would have been nice if some of the supporting characters were more vividly drawn, though. One guy is referred to as "a psychopath" but Robinson insists he's needed because of how good a diver he is. The guy handily proves his own psychosis but later is still regarded as a trusted colleague, which makes little sense.

Of course, such things are just paint-by-numbers plot points used as filler between the sequences that make this an effective thriller -- which it is, just as much as promised. No one making this movie set out to be insightful or thought-provoking, only to make entertainment. One could argue that the plot insults the audience's intelligence. Well, just don't think too hard about it and that won't happen.

It should come as no surprise that many of the characters are clearly expendable from the moment they appear onscreen, particularly considering several of them play Russians who don't speak English. I'll let you guess how many of those guys make it in the end.

It takes a little while for the action to start, and although effective buildup is always good, in this case getting right to it might have been better than fifteen minutes of silly exposition. When Robinson finds out he's a man down, he asks an 18-year-old boy to join the team. He doesn't appear to be the kind of guy that would have the necessary skills, but whatever: he's needed as a regular plot pivot. There's also the guy who works for the rich man ostensibly bankrolling this mission, who in the end serves as this movie's version of Paul Riser's corporate weasel in Alien.

Did I mention there's nothing original in this movie whatsoever? Whatever. Just go with it and you'll still have fun. We all deserve a break from thinking every once in a while, and the best thing I can say about Black Sea is there are far, far stupider movies out there. This one isn't great, but it's not so bad either.

Jude Law counts his money in BLACK SEA.

Overall: B
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