Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Black Sea – 2015

black_sea_xlgA Scotsman, four Russians, three Englishmen, an American and an Australian board a submarine in search for Nazi treasure. Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, doesn’t it? 

In what could be 2015’s most underrated gem, Black Sea encapsulates a assortment of desperate men and confines them within a claustrophobic tube of destructive metal. The crew, lead by a stern but unforgiving Robinson (Jude Law) are a mix of race, culture, age, religion and overall personality. This can only go one way, down.

Kevin Macdonald’s sub-aquatic thriller appears to borrow situational circumstances from films such as 1957’s 12 Angry Men and utilises them within the tight narrow boundaries of a submarine.
-9d43d416bdb510cdAfter becoming redundant, the despairing Mr. Robinson accepts a job as a way to satisfy his former employer.
The job in question involves Robinson venturing into the depths of the unforgiving ocean in search for an old German U-Boat, said to be housing millions of dollars worth of Nazi gold.
As the crew become increasingly suspicious of one another, inevitabilities soon surface themselves as many realise the fewer men there are, the larger their share of the loot…

Diverse and dynamic in its structure, the cast produces a multi-layered range of various attitudes, reactions, experience and tolerance to ever-changing circumstances. Every character unfolds, as both the vessel and narrative get deeper and deeper into the unknown, offering some fascinating insights into certain motivations for greed and sacrifice all the same.
What’s fantastic about the cinematography within Black Sea is that the fact that 80% of the film is shot within a submarine, there is rarely the chance to utilise wide, establishing shots. Wherever possible, the break from enclosed tension just demonstrates the crew’s isolation and vulnerability, thus furthering the ever-present sense of doom and threat.

8ef4d986-d335-4eec-a053-eaf8fdfa00eaWithin the submarine, the atmospheric tension places the audience inside with the crew, adding to the overall experience of the story, much like how 12 Angry Men made you feel like a thirteenth man taking the form of a fly on the wall.

Jude Law delivers what could be considered a career-best performance. Transformative and visceral, Law encapsulates the hardships that mask his trepidation and desperateness to near-perfection.
As an Australian myself, I had no qualms with the Glaswegian accent and wasn’t distracted in the slightest.   In fact, it added an extra layer, a parameter to the array of characters. 

Australian Ben Mendelsohn yet again plays the unscrupulous, selfish and unreadable Fraser. His character is highly reminiscent of Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody from Animal Kingdom (2010). Both characters posses a foreboding facade that masks their borderline psychotic identities undetectable and ominous.

Screen Shot 2015-06-18 at 12.31.05 amThe remaining cast is very familiar; names such as Michael Smiley (Spaced – 1999), David Threlfall (Hot Fuzz – 2007), Scoot McNairy (Frank – 2014) and Grigoriy Dobrygin (A Most Wanted Man – 2014) add to the diversity of the crew and posses significant depth of their own.
Apart from Tobias Menzies’ relatively short-lived character of Lewis, everybody is written equally and with importance, an indicator of fleshed out writing.  

Black Sea is definitely one of the most underrated films to emerge in 2015. It’s an expertly written, acted, crafted and structured picture that concludes very impressively. It’s difficult to predict where the plot will progress next as the tension and stakes increase, however through admirable craftsmanship, Black Sea succeeds in almost every aspect.
This is one to track down and discover for yourself before it is swept away, into the infinite, deep, dark abyss.









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