Submarine movies rarely end well for the characters, and almost never for the submarine itself. It's a claustrophobic genre, and, no matter what the actual plot may be, the story is always about men trapped in a nature-defying environment when that environment is threatened, often by the actions of the men themselves.
All of which is to say that Black Sea, a crisply tense film from Kevin MacDonald, is always compelling and even, occasionally, surprising. While these films inspire the guessing game of who will be the next to die horribly and who might survive, Black Sea never quite goes where you expect it, thanks to the script by British playwright Dennis Kelly.
It's a lost-Nazi-gold tale, but the film is also about the cannibalism of capitalism. The film's hero, a submarine skipper called Robinson, is played by a thick-necked, thin-haired, Scottish-accented Jude Law, as a man embittered after being laid off by the marine salvage company he's given a decade to. The job cost him his family -- and he doesn't even have a pension to show for it. "They want me to flip burgers," he notes sardonically.
While drinking with pals, he is tipped to the aforementioned hunt for lost gold, which went down in a submarine transporting it from the Soviet Union to Hitler during World War II. It's been located at the bottom of the Black Sea, but international political disputes about ownership of that part of the ocean has kept anyone from actually trying to salvage it.
Robinson is being hired by a shadowy millionaire who will underwrite the expedition in exchange for 40 percent of the take.
This review continues on my website.