Sub stan­dard is su­perb for Jude

Rutherglen Reformer - - The Ticket -

After a blis­ter­ing start to his di­rec­to­rial ca­reer (The Last King of Scot­land, State of Play), Kevin Macdon­ald’s last cou­ple of fea­ture films (The Ea­gle, How I Live Now) have seen a nose­dive in qual­ity.

Black Sea marks a wel­come re­turn to form for the Scot as he makes sev­eral im­pres­sive choices be­hind and in front of the cam­era.

Den­nis Kelly’s (Spooks, Utopia) story fol­lows sub­ma­rine cap­tain Robin­son ( Jude Law) and his ef­forts to keep the peace with his for­mer em­ploy­ers by plumb­ing the depths of the tit­u­lar sea for a ves­sel sup­pos­edly loaded with gold.

A true en­sem­ble piece, this ship-shape thriller is more than just a star ve­hi­cle for lead­ing man Law.

From the al­ways re­li­able Ben Men­del­sohn (Fraser) to Argo’s Scoot McNairy (Daniels), the cast is in­cred­i­bly strong across the board.

McNairy, in par­tic­u­lar, gives a won­der­fully splen­did per­for­mance in what could eas­ily have be­come a one-note, boo-hiss character.

Jodie Whit­taker (Chrissy) — through flash­backs — adds heart as the only fe­male pres­ence of con­se­quence, prov­ing it’s not all about boys and their toys and phys­i­cal and men­tal show­downs.

The pre­dom­i­nantly un­known Rus­sian cast match their western coun­ter­parts too with an eclec­tic mix of per­son­al­i­ties, headed up by Grig­oriy Do­bry­gin (A Most Wanted Man).

And what of the Law man? His Scot­tish ac­cent may wa­ver at times but it’s oceans above Har­ri­son Ford’s laugh­able at­tempts at Rus­sian in fel­low sub-based thriller K-19: The Wid­ow­maker.

Robin­son means well as he strug­gles to keep his head above wa­ter due to the ac­tions of his crew in what is a con­fi­dent, im­pos­ing turn by Law.

There’s no Per­fect Storm-type enor­mous tidal waves or sign of any tor­pe­does be­ing fired at our ves­sel dwellers for those look­ing for an ac­tion fix.

The fo­cus, in­stead, is on fa­mil­iar — and con­tem­po­rary — sto­ry­line ideas tak­ing in class wars and ten­sions be­tween Rus­sia and the west.

A sense of fore­bod­ing flows through­out the near two-hour run­ning time and Robin­son and crew grow more and more des­per­ate as the stakes are raised. It goes with­out say­ing the sub­ma­rine set­ting makes for a claus­tro­pho­bic at­mos­phere but Macdon­ald and cin­e­matog­ra­pher Christo­pher Ross (Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll) add beauty to the cramped en­vi­ron­ment, as well as scope through above and un­der­wa­ter shots of the sea it­self.

Ilan Eshkeri’s score helps build the ten­sion, which reaches whiteknuckle ter­ri­tory as the twists and turns in Kelly’s script play out.

Black Sea is a throw­back to old­fash­ioned, Sun­day af­ter­noon view­ingstyle sto­ry­telling and a grip­ping yarn to leave you gasp­ing for air.

Pure gold Jude Law’s Cap­tain Robin­son is in line for a pay rise

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