Films set in enclosed spaces are some of the hardest to make successful.

In recent years, Locke, Pressure, and even Hateful Eight to some extent have all wrestled with the concept of tight, enclosed spaces filled with personalities, interspersed with rare and occasional action. Black Sea follows this formula, but manages to wring enough out of its concept and performances to set itself apart as a tight, tense thriller.

Robinson (Law) is a retrenched submarine captain, struggling to deal with a family that drifted apart while he devoted his life to the sea. With his job taken from him, he gets an offer from an old friend: join a half British/half Russian crew in a small submarine and go in search of a lost Soviet sub filled with gold bullion. The set-up is Ocean’s Eleven under the actual ocean.

Unlike that film though, there’s a lot more tenseness on display here, and much less joviality between crew members. Much of the drama comes from the distrust and lack of communication between the two languages and nationality groups, and while the Russians are still stereotyped a lot here, Robinson as the focus point keeps the conflict moving in a satisfactory way. Law actually should be commended for a rather good performance as a whole here.

The essential features of this movie that make it successful is that it keeps you interested enough in the payoff to want to see if and how the crew makes it to the conclusion. There’s that wrestling pit in your stomach that any good thriller should create for the viewer during the first time watching.

In other words, I recommend Black Sea to the undersea, Cold War and Jude Law fan. With a few more performances like this, it may well be Jude Law getting his turn at the Oscars in the next few years.

Rating 3.5 / 5

Cast: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn
Genre: Adventure, Thriller
Director: Kevin Macdonald
Age Restriction: 16 VL
Studio: Focus Features, Film4, Cowboy Films
Running Time: 1h 54min

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