"Academy Award Winning Actor Jude Law channels Captain Ahab in this deep sea thriller."
An almost unrecognisable Jude Law plays Robinson, a well-respected submarine Captain who is made redundant from the under-water salvage company where he's worked for 30 years and which he claims had contributed to the end of his marriage.
Robinson consoles himself at his local pub with a few friends, Kurstin and Russian, Blackie. Kurstin explains that he knows the perfect way to make some quick cash, after revealing that just before he, too, was made redundant from the same salvage company earlier, he had found a old, German U-boat that had sunk off the cost of Georgia. According to World War II legend, the boat was rumoured to be carrying a lot of gold bullion due to an alliance between Stalin and Hitler. The three then plan to meet with a financial backer, who agrees to fund the recovery in exchange for 40% of the profits.
Robinson and Blackie gather their crew together, which due to the U-boat's location, Robinson feels must be half Russian and half British, in addition to the all-talk, no-action American banker, who introduced them to their financial backer. Just as they are about to set out, a young man, Tobin arrives to inform Robinson of Kurstin's suicide. Robinson decides to take Tobin in place of his friend.
On board the submarine, there is an almost immediate tension between the Russian and British crew, with the Russians seeing Tobin as a bad luck omen/ virgin (due to his apparent youthfulness) and the American banker despairing and fearing for their lives as Robinson announces an even split of the remaining 60% between each member of the crew. Complicating matters is the hot-headed Fraser, known to most members of the crew as an excellent recovery diver but a 'psycho', who loses his cool and stabs Blackie, the only member of the crew known to speak both Russian and English. During this fight Robinson is knocked unconscious only to wake 18 hours later to find the submarine severely damaged and the crew virtually at war with each other. From there, things go down hill as human greed comes into play, and loyalty questioned.
Ben Mendelson is a stand out as the psycho Fraser, who can so easily be talked into things but who can just as easily talk others into doing things they otherwise shouldn't. And Jude Law is simply brilliant as the rather conflicted, but strong Captain, Robinson. The Russian actors are all actually Russian and apparently well known in their native land. This adds to the elements of realism, as many of the scenes aboard the submarine, were actually shot on an old submarine. It is very, very easy to imagine that at times an actor did not have to act too hard to look so uncomfortable or claustrophobic in their surroundings
Similar to some of his previous work, Kevin MacDonald has injected small bursts of humour into Black Sea, where, despite the tension, the audience laughs out loud. The plot twists and turns - some in ways that are completely unexpected, some not so much. Throughout watching the film and its fascinating expose of what greed and pressure can do to a human being, you know that, at least for several of the characters, it is just going to get worse for them, before it gets better.