Friday, January 30, 2015


Black Sea

Black Sea official site Neither treasure hunt nor submarine survival is new to filmmakers. However, it's a little surprising for Academy Award winning filmmaker Kevin Macdonald to tell a pure fictional story about treasure hunt on the sea floor in his latest thriller "Black Sea" (UK 2014 | 114 min.). That's because this film is a sharp contrast to his previous work such as the excellent "The Last King of Scotland" (2006) which is based on true events, or "Touching the Void" (2003) and "One Day in September" (1999) which are documentaries. Sure, he also made "How I Live Now" (2013), but it is about seeking survival during World War III which I found intriguing. Despite having a few well-crafted exciting moments, his latest film fails to engage the audience for its lack of credibility, and it doesn't have a compelling story to tell about either treasure hunt or submarine.

In the film's opening scene, ex-Navy officer and a submarine captain Robinson (Jude Law) gets a termination letter after on the job for more than a decade. Feeling desperate, he jumps on an opportunity presented by a smooth talking American Daniels (Scoot McNairy). Daniels informs Robinson that an unknown (yeah right!) German U-boat sits on the bottom of Black Sea since World War II when it sank with a large amount of gold which Stalin used to bribe Hitler not to invade (are you kidding?!). A mission to recover the gold and to get rich quick is underway.

To reach the gold, Robinson leads about a dozen men (half of them are Russian) to sneak to the bottom of the sea in a rusty rundown abandoned Russian submarine. Although the film doesn't quite elaborate, these men on board all seem having their own specialties and being motivated only by greed, except an 18-year-old drifter Tobin (Bobby Schofield) who knows nothing about sailing and being rich.

The rule is simple: once the gold is retrieved, it will be equally divided among the crew. It doesn't take long for the crew to figure out the math that the less people survive the more money each gets, under a constraint that the ancient submarine needs at least nine people to operate. It's like in the hunger games, the crew need to survive both the sea and the people around them.

Black Sea Official Site

The director Kevin Macdonald certainly knows how to create suspensive moments and tense atmosphere in the film. From time to time, the film is thrilling and gripping. But almost immediately, each exciting moment bursts into thin air like a soup bubble because it is built on a shaky unconvincing foundation. Nothing seems more terrifying than getting into that so-called submarine that looks like a piece of metal in a junk yard. Yet, it can miraculously sail to the bottom of the sea. Then take a look at who are the people driving this piece of giant junk. If it sounds like a joke, it probably is. It's all a setup for the sake of a submarine movie on a treasure hunt which the movie is meant to be. Kevin Macdonald should have worked on better materials than that.

Jude Law looks rough and angry, but doesn't possess the demeanor as a commander on the boat. In fact, he doesn't have the control of his men, nor speaks Russian. But, he seems has all the luck he needs to go through each crisis during his mission, until his luck runs out.

If it's not due to luck, how can you explain that the submarine can sail without noticed by sophisticated Russian Navy? How is it possible that in the vast bottom of the sea, the crew is able to find the sank U-boat without even trying? How come they can spot the pile of gold inside the boat in no time? How is it feasible that they can drag tons of gold back into the submarine and get them neatly stacked as if Amazon just makes a delivery?

Instead of making this disappointing film, Kevin Macdonald should have made a documentary about how Jude Law leads a group of thug to find the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Who knows? They seem have all the luck to find what they are looking for on the bottom of the sea, and maybe Kevin Macdonald can take home another Oscar for documenting the miracle.

"Black Sea," a Focus Features release, opens on Friday, January 30, 2015 in San Francisco Bay Area.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?