‘Black Sea’ Movie Review – An Intense Underwater Thriller

Black Sea Movie Review - Starring Jude Law
Jude Law (at center) stars as a rogue submarine captain, with a misfit crew, after sunken treasure in Focus Features’ ‘Black Sea’ (Photo Credit: Alex Bailey / Focus Features)

“One hundred eighty two million dollars, equal share for every man,” says Captain Robinson (Jude Law) to his misfit crew aboard their rogue submarine in search of sunken gold treasure in the dramatic film Black Sea.

After being fired from his job as a submarine captain for a salvation company where he worked for 30 years, Robinson hears from an old friend that there might be a Nazi U-boat loaded with gold sitting on the bottom of the ocean in the Black Sea. Desperate and angry, Robinson puts together a crew of British and Russian sailors made up of engineers, cooks, ex-Navy men, divers, and convicts. Partnering up with a shadowy, wealthy backer, Robinson gets hold of a submarine and heads out in search of the sunken treasure.

As Robinson and his crew get farther out and dive deeper into the sea, greed, deception, fear and paranoia begin to spread among the crew. Robinson’s worried as his the rich backer’s representative, Daniels (Scoot McNairy), who asks the Captain, “What happens when one of them starts to figure out that their share gets bigger when there’s less people to share it with?”

Masterfully directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald, Black Sea is an absorbing, suspenseful adventure thriller with a stand-out performance by Jude Law. It’s Treasure of the Sierra Madre meets Das Boot. The claustrophobic feel and look of the submarine is powerful and at times overwhelming, capturing perfectly the tight quarters these men must deal with and work in if they ever hope to find their treasure.

Jude Law gives one of his best performances as Robinson, the angry and determined Captain who truly believes this is both his and the crew’s last chance to make a fortune and never have to work for anyone ever again. Robinson is a crusty, middle-aged, past-his-prime sub captain and Law portrays him wonderfully, in particular when Robinson might be succumbing to gold fever.

Scoot McNairy is effective as Daniels, the overly nervous, manipulative representative of the mysterious wealthy backer who never planned to end up on board the submarine and knows more than he wants to share about their mission. His character is reminiscent of Paul Reiser’s “Carter Burke” in the film Aliens.

The set design is flawless in showing a rundown submarine and all its inner workings. The cinematography is terrific inside and also very impressive outside the submarine. Although some scenes are very dark, the audience will never have any trouble seeing the sub under water and at times it comes across quite ominous.

With superb direction, a solid script, and an outstanding performance by Jude Law, Black Sea is a first-rate adventure thriller not to be missed.


Rating: R for language throughout, some graphic images and violence

Running time: 115 minutes

Release date: January 30, 2015

– Reviewed by Kevin Finnerty

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