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REVIEW: ‘Black Sea’ - Jude Law In Pursuit of Nazi Gold

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Jude Law, who has played a lot of great supporting characters – most notably in the Sherlock Holmes flicks, returns as a leading man in Black Sea with a riveting performance as Robinson, a recently fired submarine captain who receives a shoddy severance package. When one of his former colleagues, Kurston, (Daniel Ryan) informs on several occasions about a buried treasure located at the bottom of the Black Sea, Robinson and Kurston meet up with Daniels (Scoot McNairy), the businessman who is planning to organize an excursion in hopes of finding the treasure. After all, you can’t go wrong stealing gold from dead Nazis, right?

Robinson and his friends quickly recruit a blend of British and Russian workers, to man the ancient sub, which will bring them to their bounty. However, several crew members come to the realization that the pot will be sweetened if there’s less people they have to share it with. As a result, Robinson must keep his crew together and alive while embarking on the potential life-altering mission.

Black Sea provides a sobering commentary on working class men, who have been abandoned by the maritime industry. They are left with useless skills, and are bitter and broke. Their sad station explains their wiliness to take the risky trip. It also provides great conflict, as they deal with Daniels, who tags along to supervise the safe retrieval of the loot. As expected, the crew initially looks like a bunch of standard tropes, but screenwriter Dennis Kelly provides most of the actors a few key scenes to round out their characters. Kevin McDonald, director of the superb The Last King of Scotland, deftly sets up the tension. Initially, he makes the sub feel almost roomy, as the men are in different sections, handling their specific work, but increasingly, they find themselves cornered. The underwater scenes are delightfully spooky.

Law sports a decent Scottish brogue that occasionally sounds like he’s laying it on a bit thick. Nonetheless, it’s his best role in years. Australian actor Ben Mendelsohn brings a creepy antagonism to his role as Fraser, and Grigoriy Dobrygin, one of the younger Russian shipmates, proves helpful with his sensible demeanor.  There are some subtitled scenes, for when the Russians try to communicate with the Brits, but most of the time they are speaking British English.

 

Fortunately, the trailer for the satisfying, suspenseful film doesn’t completely give the story away. The film is rated R for its brief but extremely violent content, there is also some graphic images of injured bodies.

 

Warning: Do not bring your small child, like someone did for this week’s screening.


Contact Diane Cooney at dcooney@philly2philly.com

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Photo: nomoreworkhorse.com