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Black Sea (7/10)
by Tony Medley
Runtime 114 minutes.
OK for children.
Robinson (Jude Law) is a submarine captain who has been fired by his
longtime employer and set adrift with no prospects. While drinking in a
bar, one of his friends tells them of a Nazi submarine that was sunk during World War II containing hundreds of millions of
dollars of gold bars, and that he knows where it is. He also says that
he knows an old rusty submarine that they could use to dive and recover
the gold. Robinson signs on and recruits a motley crew composed of
people who are as disaffected as he is, along with some Russians who
were recruited by one of his friends in the bar, and off they go.
Directed by Kevin McDonald, best known as the director of The Last
King of Scotland (2006), this is intended to capture the
claustrophobic feeling of being in a disabled submarine of questionable
safety in the ocean depths. Unfortunately, good as this movie is,
McDonald has apparently never seen the inside of a real one because this
submarine is big enough to play a basketball game in. I’ve been on a US
atomic submarine which are a lot larger than the World War II era
submarines, and there is very little room for anything. If McDonald
really wanted to create a feeling of claustrophobia, he needed to
re-create the actual size and lack of room in a submarine. Even though
they’re trapped in black depths of the ocean the viewer really doesn’t
feel the claustrophobia that would be actually present in a real
submarine and its cramped quarters.
McDonald credits The Treasure of Sierra Madre (1948) and The
Dirty Dozen (1967) as inspiration but, alas, there are no iconic
lines like “We don’t need no stinking badges” of 'Sierra Madre or
light-hearted humor like was present in 'Dozen to liven this up.
There is not a scintilla of humor in this film, nor are there any
Despite the fact that it’s too long and it lacks humor, it still creates
a sufficient amount of tension along with the plot twist that make it
entertaining. Frankly, though, the plot twist made absolutely no sense