Black Sea is a tense and claustrophobic drama from Last King of Scotland director Kevin Macdonald.
When Jude Law’s newly unemployed submarine captain learns of a second world war U-Boat resting at the bottom of the sea with a cargo of gold bullion he puts together a team of British and Russian sailors to retrieve the loot.
But racial tensions between the crew and the questionable loyalties of his financial backers risks undermining not just the mission but the safety of everyone aboard.
Macdonald uses the sub’s dark recesses and tight confines to help ratchet up the tension as the crew’s loyalties are tested by a series of challenges and mishaps.
And he manages to credibly send the plot heading off in a completely different direction whenever the audience relaxes in the belief that they know how things are going to work out.
The other plus points are Law’s gritty and moody portrayal of Captain Robinson and the film’s special effects work, especially the scenes in which members of the crew leaves the sub and have to explored the sea bed.
But there are some serious faults – too much of the crew’s disharmony rests on a single crew member’s agitating which Law’s Captain Robinson conveniently fails to spot or curb.
And worse, the unpredictability is dropped in the final ten minutes in favour of a feel good ending which undermines much of the film’s carefully crafted emotional journey.
Out December 5th.