“I lost my family because of this job.”
If, out of the blue, you were to ask me opinion of Jude Law, I probably wouldn’t have much to say. As an actor, he’s not someone I willingly seek out, or someone I actively avoid. If you asked me how many Jude Law movies I’d seen in my life, I’d probably remember two or three. But a search of the Bored and Dangerous archives shows that I have written about no less than eight Jude Law movies in the last year or so. Thinking about that, I realise that I don’t not remember him because he’s not good. I don’t remember Jude Law because he’s pretty great at disappearing into a role and making me remember the character, not the actor. So now that I have come to the realisation that I’m a fan of his work, I had to track down his latest, Black Sea.
Fired from his job as a submarine pilot for a marine salvage company, Robinson (Law) is drinking with fellow sackees Kurston (Daniel Ryan) and Blackie (Konstantin Khabensky). Kurston has heard the story of a sunken U-boat off the coast of (European, not American) Georgia, full of Russian gold. Kurston knows a man who might be able to finance a salvage mission, while Blackie knows a man who can sell them their own sub to go after the gold.
With their financier’s lacky (Scoot McNairy as Daniels) in tow, Robinson recruits a team of former colleagues, navy comrades and various other men if ill repute (most notably Ben Mendelsohn in a typical Ben Mendelsohn role) to go after the fortune at the bottom of the titular sea. But with a combination of men like this, in the confined conditions of a submarine, in search of a fortune, it’s only a matter of time before greed rears its ugly head.
Black Sea is kind of like The Full Monty. Just with a lot less delightful, working class English comedy, and a lot more life and death menace and threat at every turn. If you’ve seen a submarine picture or two, then you’re probably expecting some sort of boat malfunction at some stage. It’s sort of standard operating procedure. Between that and the kinds of characters that make up this movie, very few of the major beats of the movie surprised me. But that never stopped them from entertaining me.
The fear of these men is real. The rash decisions they make are real. The consequences of those decisions are real. Black Sea takes a whole lot of movie tropes and well worn elements, then turns them into something completely affecting. And once again, I’m reminded that Jude Law is pretty fantastic. Good guy, bad guy, a bit of both and somewhere in between. He makes Robinson and everything he does, right or wrong, completely believable and understandable.