In Black Sea, a muscular Jude Law adopts a Scottish accent and a salty persona to lead a submarine crew looking for lost Nazi gold. The mariners evade Putin’s navy, fight to keep a decrepit ship alive and navigate a battle of personal egos, while the filmmakers face an even harder struggle – make a major submarine movie, a subgenre that hasn’t produced one decent entry for almost 20 years.
Macdonald’s thriller tries to channel everything from Das Boot to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but never finds its sea legs. Law nails the accent but feels ill-fitted to salt-of-the-earth toughness. Plot pivots around Mendelsohn’s character inconsistently paint him as both a psychopath and a principled moralist. And attempts to establish a theme about working men adrift in a world of cold globalisation feel insincere, and are confirmed as such in a hackneyed 11th-hour twist involving the stock corporate villain. But by that point the film has become a confused mishmash about greed, madness, violence and sentimental redemption. [Ian Mantgani]