Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Black Sea; NEVER hire the psycho

Seriously. Never hire the psycho. That’s right up there with “Always be yourself, unless you can be Batman.” And I don’t mean, don’t hire the buy who TURNS OUT to be the psycho. I mean, when you’re talking about who to hire, and you actually say “He’s a psycho, but ….” Kim Kardashian doesn’t have a but big enough to fill in those dots. The words which come after “He’s a psycho..” are “So we’re hiring someone else."

Jude Law missed that meeting, bless him. So he hires the psycho. To be one of the twelve guys he needs to drive a submarine to recover a load of Nazi gold from another submarine which sank in the Black Sea ferrying it from Stalin to Hitler. It’s a tribute to the overall competence of the movie that it wasn’t til afterwards that I started trying to work out how a U-Boat even got into the Black Sea in 1941 … Anyhow, it’s there, it’s full of gold, and Jude Law is going to use a rust bucket ex-Soviet diesel sub to loot all the gold in lieu of the redundancy money his marine salvage employers just stiffed him out of. A motley crew of losers trying to steal a fortune in dangerous circumstances; it’s just a matter of time before they fall out over the spoils and start killing each other, leaving one survivor at the end with nothing but his life, innit?

Mandatory Bechdel test; failed, level one; there aren’t even two female characters. And the one they’ve got only exists in flashbacks.

Highlights; Scoot McNairy in the role of Carter Burke from Aliens; it’s not that he’s actually any good, it’s just that he’s so Carter Burke that you spend the movie waiting for him to say “It was a bad call, Ripley, it was a bad call.”. All the doleful old coots on the British wing of the submarine crew, each more doomed than the next, and still making you care. Including the laugh out loud line early on when Scoot McNair looks around the rust bucket and wails “This is just going to sink!” “Wouldn’t be much of a submarine if it didn’t."

It’s not a bad movie; it’s not great, and it doesn’t make as much sense as it thinks it does (near the end, the sub is inching through an underwater canyon in the shallows, until the hull has a fracture, whereupon they’re suddenly sinking to crush depth…), but it hangs together largely on the strength of a bunch of charming British character actors who make you care when it’s all going wrong. Jude Law is a morose self-pitying angry presence in the middle of it, and I found myself wondering if the movie would have been better without him. But I suppose you have to have a star. 

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