Black Sea has the potential to be a modern pirate thriller – a desperate submarine captain puts together a misfit crew to find a sunken treasure in the Black Sea.
The product design is superb, immersing the audience in an old submarine with innumerable gauges and other old school fittings that need to be manually operated. The movie shows the tedious process of operating the whole thing that solely depends on the crew’s skill. Later on, the cramped sub help in creating a claustrophobic and tense atmosphere between the characters.
The crew of half British and half Russian presents tension and cultural differences. The inevitable demise of their career due to technology is timely. As we see the rise of robotic automation – from software to unmanned vehicles – many will be displaced. Soon enough the desperate men turn on each other once they realize that they’ll get a larger share when there are fewer men on board.
Unfortunately, Black Sea is also burdened by a screenplay that couldn’t lift the narrative past mediocrity.
Jude Law stops you from dozing off thanks to a committed performance, but the narrative remains too generic to keep you invested in any of what’s happening.
The one-note stereotyped characters suddenly flip motivations and the movie never addresses the repercussions of their actions. Jude Law and Ben Mendelsohn manage to add some depth to their underwritten characters, but others have nothing to do but appear at the right moment and die.
The movie bends its own logic for a happy ending.
Black Sea either had to settle with character-driven drama or edge-of-your-seat-action. Unfortunately, the script didn’t provide enough for either. The film is more preoccupied with the mechanics of the submarine than its own story.
Black Sea has no engaging story and characters to fill its detailed backdrop.