Good Actors Adrift In 'Black Sea'
A Lazy Script Ultimately Sinks Action Thriller
“Black Sea” doesn’t use war as the backdrop for its submarine tale. Instead, it looks to the world of salvaging at sea and a submarine captain who’s just been laid off. Robinson (Jude Law) has been unceremoniously let go from the company he’s devoted his life to for almost a decade. He claims his job has cost him his marriage, and now he faces a future without family or steady employment. Then a buddy suggests a wild scheme: get some backers and head off to the Black Sea to search for a sunken treasure of Nazi gold.
“Black Sea” is part gritty working-class drama, part deep sea adventure, and part corporate thriller. It takes a motley crew of men in varying states of desperation, places them on a sub in search of millions in gold, and then pits them against each other as greed and physical hardship set in. The film engages us through a likable, credible cast led by Law and the inherent tension of being hundreds of feet underwater in a rickety, old Russian sub.
But the problem – and it is a big one – is that the script by Dennis Kelly is lazy and takes shortcuts to prompt each of its twists and turns. Characters must act in jaw-droppingly stupid ways and often contrary to their own personalities in order to move the story forward and increase conflict. It’s frustrating to see a good cast and a technically well-crafted film sunk by a script that has no respect for its characters or logic.
“Black Sea” (rated R for language throughout, some graphic images and violence) wastes a lot of acting talent and money to deliver an action thriller in which the greatest tension revolves around who will act the most stupid next. This is a case where the dangers of the ocean depths prove far less lethal than a screenwriter with a lack of imagination and intelligence.