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He Said, She Said Review Site

Black Sea

What She said:


Well, as we all know, money brings out the worst in people. And unfortunately, the world of deep sea salvage is extremely money driven. Black Sea tells the story of one scorned ship captain who decides to stick it to the man, pull together a group of sailors, and recover a lost bounty of gold worth millions. Unfortunately, when you get a bunch of money-hungry testosterone hardened men together, things don’t end well.

Here are your basics. Robinson is a veteran of the under-sea salvage industry, but he is laid off one day seemingly out of nowhere. Now, he doesn’t have much of a family life to fall back on. His years of devotion to his craft ruined his marriage and his ex-wife and son now lead a life largely without Robinson in it. Initially, Robinson just boozes it up with some of his former coworkers, many of whom have also been laid off. One of them tells Robinson about a German U-boat that sank with a cargo of gold bars worth millions. Robinson is intrigued and meets with a mysterious financial backer who is willing to fund a submarine journey to retrieve the treasure. The funder will take 40% of the value of what is recovered. The rest belongs to Robinson and his crew.

Black Sea

Robinson assembles a group of men for his submarine that is half British and half Russian. It’s a hodge-podge of misfits and angry fellas who don’t get along. The only thing they agree on is that they want the gold. But the Russians are very important because they have the technical expertise of the vessel that Robinson is headmanning, and so everyone needs to play nice. Of course, despite the fact that Robinson tries to lure the men into behaving themselves by agreeing to an equal split of the bounty, fighting still breaks out. One particularly bad scuffle ends in a stabbing and a fire. The fire severely damages the sub and leaves several men killed or injured. The Russians take over half of the submarine and Robinson has to work to create a united front once again.

In the meantime, the submarine is unable to function due to a broken drive-shaft. The crew must risk their lives to retrieve the drive-shaft from the sunken U-boat. They also use the opportunity to get their hands on the gold. Of course, we cannot have a happy ending, and so one of the crew admits to Robinson that he has actually been set up to retrieve the gold by his former employer. They’re waiting for him to resurface with the bounty and then will immediately arrest him. To make matters worse, the sub is now taking on water and so the remaining crew need to abandon ship. There are only a limited number of life suits, and it’s all but certain that not everyone will make it off alive.

Annnddd…I’m not going to give away anymore. Basically, this entire journey was a bad idea that just gets worse and worse with every minute that passes. I kind of feel bad for Robinson, because he doesn’t seem like too bad of a guy, but the dude needs to get over his work and just move on with his life. He clearly does not have his priorities straight. And the guys that he assembles to complete the salvage with him are absolute head-cases. I’ve never seen so many angry people who are ready to go off the deep end at the flip of a switch.

Black Sea

So, here’s what I liked. It was an interesting concept and I think that Jude Law did a good job of playing Robinson. He put a lot of emotion into the character and made him multidimensional. He also looked the part—hardened and tired. I didn’t recognize any of the other actors from the film, but they were all ok.

What I didn’t like is that so much went wrong that it actually became somewhat mind-numbing. Everyone was so bad and so tense it almost seemed unbelievable. Nothing visually was too over-the-top, but the circumstances became such to the point where I started to check-out mentally. Now, I was watching the movie at the end of a long day, and I was pretty exhausted. But there still wasn’t enough to keep me interested.

That’s not to say that this film has any shortage of action. There’s always someone fighting, something getting blown up, or something melting down. It just was not as interesting as I would have hoped. I guess the plot made sense logically, but I did leave the movie asking why? Why did the company set up Robinson to get the gold? Why didn’t they just get it themselves? Were they really that cheap? I don’t like being left with this many questions, and they may have been answered but I clearly missed the explanations.

Oh well, it was an OK film, but not one that I’ll likely watch again. I’m sure there are folks out there who will like Black Sea far more than I did.

Thumbs half up.

Black Sea

What He said:


Robinson (Jude Law) is having bad day. He just got laid off from his job after years of loyal service. Even more insulting is that job has recently cost him his family. He was captain of an under-sea salvage vessel. He was away from long periods of time and  his wife finally had enough. She left him, is now with someone else, and he is estranged from his son to boot.

Black Sea

While drowning his sorrows at a local pub with some buddies, he comes across a potential job. One of his friends tells him that her recently overheard someone (I think formers employers) talking about an old Nazi U-Boat that is buried at the bottom of the Black Sea. The old boat supposedly contains millions in gold bars that was to be used in a deal between Russia and Germany.

Robinson and another one of his colleagues goes to meet with a mysterious man only known as Lewis (Tobias Menzies). Lewis agrees to fund the expedition – which is illegal – in exchange for 40% of what they find. The only stipulation is that they have to bring one of his associates – a guy named Daniels – along. Daniels (Scott McNairy) is little more than a lackey and is not pleased with this, but does as he is told.

Robinson assembles a team, which consists of a bunch of rough guys and an 18-year old kid who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Fraser (Ben Mendelsohn) is the best diver around and Robinson insists on having him on-board. He also happens to be a massive asshole and very likely mentally unstable. He starts trouble with half the crew because they are Russian – the crew is half Russian half British – and for whatever reason his insane mind concocts, he believes the Russian half of the crew doesn’t deserve as much as the British. He makes little remarks here and there and even some threats.

Black Sea

Tobin is just somebody Robinson happened to meet on his way to the job. He was a man down and the kid needed a job, so Robinson offered it to him. I don’t remember if Tobin was homeless or just very poor, but he needs the money, so he accepts. He seems like a decent kid, but has no experience at all, which causes some friction.

The fact that these guys are doing something highly illegal tells you something about them. Some are desperate, some are greedy, but they all want money.   Submarine crews are apparently a bunch of off-beat personalities. I have no idea If this is true or not, but for the sake of the movie I don’t have a hard time believing it. I’ve known people in other blue collar jobs and let’s just say it is at the very least believable. Plus, when you factor in the confined space, you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

I remember seeing the trailer for this – not too long ago in fact – and thinking it looked like it had potential. Some guys down on their luck, others just plain scumbags, confined spaces, massive amounts of money, this movie has backstabbing and generally seedy behavior written all over it. It delivered on all of that too. Was it the best movie I’ve ever seen or even the best one this year? No, but it was tense and entertaining.

Black Sea

I agree with the She that Jude Law did a good job. Robinson is one of a few likeable guys on board the sub. He’s not particularly greedy, but the closer he gets to the money the more he starts to lose perspective. However, he is still a lot less of a sociopath than 90% of the crew. He looked the part and gave the performance to back it up too.

Ben Mendelsohn and Scoot McNairy had the scumbag department covered. Neither one of them were good people, but they were different kinds of “not good” and I liked the variety. Fraser is brash, aggressive, and willing to go to blows if he feels you’ve wrong him; even if you haven’t. Daniels is a corporate weasel and all too happy to manipulate the hot-tempered – but not too intelligent – Fraser into doing his dirty work.  One was the brains, one was the brawn. You don’t always get both kinds of villains in the same movie, so I liked the variety. I disliked them both so much that I honstly can't figured out which one I disliked more.

I also liked the kid, Tobin. He just needed some money. I won’t tell you why, but his intentions are perfectly normal. He is not some grizzled guy at the end of his career willing to do whatever it takes for that one last pay day. He just wants to earn a living.

This movie was well-acted, had an appropriately dark and tense atmosphere, and an interesting story. Was it totally accurate? I have no idea if the historical aspect or the nautical one are even close to real life. Nor do I care. It entertained me and did so without being insulting.

Prognosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on June 1, 2015.