Black Sea (2014)

Black Sea (2014)
  • Time: 115 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Thriller
  • Director: Kevin Macdonald
  • Cast: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Jodie Whittaker, Ben Mendelsohn


In order to make good with his former employers, a submarine captain takes a job with a shadowy backer to search the depths of the Black Sea for a submarine rumored to be loaded with gold.


  • Ex-Navy captain Robinson (Jude Law) is bitter and disgruntled, forced on the dole by the ocean salvage corporation for whom he’s sacrificed the last 11 years of his life. The job cost him his family; his son grew up without his presence and now has a posh stepfather who can provide the life and parenting that Robinson never could. There’s nothing left for the old seadog to lose, so when his mate tells of a treasure waiting to be recovered from the Black Sea, Robinson wastes no time assembling a half-British, half-Russian crew to search for two tons worth of gold.

    The gold was the intended payoff from one dictator to another, Hitler capitalising on Stalin’s fear that Germany would invade Russia. The gold never made it to Hitler’s coffers, resulting in the violation of the non-aggression pact between the two countries. Rumours swirled in the Fifties that the gold was lost at sea and, three decades later, a U-boat purported to be the one carrying the gold was detected. The location of the U-boat is reachable, but the journey is not without its dangers as Robinson and his crew are all too well aware.

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  • Kevin Macdonald’s latest film Black Sea is a weird, dark and undoubtedly thrilling submarine film which mixes in elements of the heist genre. It has the feel of a Cold War era action film, but is it an entertaining ride?

    Captain Robinson (Jude Law) works in deep-sea salvage, and has just been made redundant. As he discusses his problems over a drink with his mate Kurston (Daniel Ryan) and a Russian man, Blackie (Konstantin Khabensky), Kurston tells them that in WWII a German U-Boat, supposedly stuffed to the brim with gold, sank in the Black Sea and that whilst some large third-parties were interested in salvaging it, they had become embroiled in political red-tape. Kurston has a plan to salvage the gold, and sends the other two to negotiate a deal with a rich man named Lewis (Tobias Menzies), who can fund the expedition. Before they begin the trip, Robinson finds a young man, Tobin (Bobby Schofield) waiting at Kurston’s apartment, who informs Robinson that he’s committed suicide. Robinson recruits Tobin in his place and the crew travel to Crimea, where they join a Russian crew and the old Russian sub that they’re to use. However, once under way, the expedition doesn’t go to plan with the claustrophobic conditions, value of the find, and division between the crew adding to the conflict.

    Black Sea doesn’t hang about. After a brief establishing conversation, Robinson is already working to get the plan under way, and this pace continues through to the very end of the film. It covers so much ground that it’s difficult to believe that it’s less than two hours in length. The ‘U-boat full of gold’ back story is interesting with enough intrigue to work, and apart from a few unnecessary flashbacks that create the illusion of character development, the story – and indeed, the characters – fixate on the events within the submarine.

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  • Law does an excellent job as working class hero, submariner looking for a payday for himself and his team of undersea treasure hunters.

    The story is a little far fetched and does stretch the boundaries of credibility. That said, the balanced pace of the film, the solid character development and the well directed action sequences really pull this title together. As does the all round quality acting from the cast.

    What does drag this film down, by contrast, is the rather confused social message about class. On the one hand the working class lead is certainly a victim of the upper middle and upper class company types who covertly fund the mission. What’s odd is the lead is unfairly blamed for all that goes wrong throughout the deep sea mission when much of what happens is out of his hands. Yet somehow he’s described as worse than those who manipulated him. The facts however, just don’t agree with this rather unsympathetic conclusion.

    In summary Black Sea is not an exceptional film. It has a confused message but does make up for it somewhat in terms of the overall story and direction. Seven out of ten from me.

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