Black Sea – Review ★★★

Jude Law puts on his best Scottish accent for Black Sea, a submarine-set thriller, where a group of unemployed divers journey to the depths of the ocean floor in search of Nazi gold.

Glaswegian director Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, Touching the Void) takes the helm, bringing together a group of lesser seen British actors – Tobias Menzies, David Threlfal and Michael Smiley, to take the roles of hard-up hardmen. Accompanying them is American banker Scoot MacNairy (whose boss is funding the quest) and an Australian diver who we’re told is a psycho – must be Ben Mendelsohn, then.

If you can forgive the Groundskeeper Willie-style accent by Law, there are a few exciting twists in the adventure. Staying far away from the Deep Blue Sea/Piranha 3D type conventions, Black Sea is a thriller where the monsters are ourselves. There are no sharks or giant octopuses, just a bunch of men trapped on a submarine.

If you consider that the depths of the ocean are as “other” to us as deep space, Black Sea should be as thrilling as Interstellar. It’s not, but there’s still the effort put in to make the sea seem like an endless void where death could swallow you up in seconds, and it does on occasion.

However, where Black Sea falters is through some of its conventional writing (clichés, basically), like giving the working class hero a chip on his shoulder about ‘posh twats’, or including a subplot about a teenager who finds out he’s a father by text. The dialogue is exemplary: “this time the shit is fighting back!” they yell, proving that the writing is, well, crap.

Jude Law brings some of his Don Hemingway-style physicality to the role, walking through the submarine  as if he’s holding a barrel of beer between his legs, but he shines when it comes to showing his struggle with greed towards the end, in the only part of the film that’s truly affecting.

Overall, you’ll walk out wondering whether Danny Boyle could’ve done a better job. Black Sea has elements of Sunshine – maybe if there were more explosions (or a really big octopus) the whole thing would’ve packed a bigger punch.

Black Sea will be released in UK cinemas on Dec 5th.

Flossie Topping is the former Editor-in-Chief of Critics Associated (2013-2015).