Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Black Sea

(UK, 2014)

I think all submarine movies are basically alike, except for the depth charges in wartime movies. From Run Silent, Run Deep to The Hunt for Red October to Das Boot, we see the same scenes of high pressure water squirting into the interior, the plunge toward depths the hull just can’t take!, the scrape along unseen reefs or mine chains, and most of all the sweat. Or even more than that, the horribly tight quarters. I’m not particularly claustrophobic, I had no trouble entering and touring an actual fucking Nazi submarine at the Field Museum in Chicago, but I could never have served aboard one. I’d have suffered brain damage in the first day aboard; I’m way too tall. It’s a short man’s game.

Even worse, though, is the simple fact that you can’t see out. I couldn’t tolerate that. It takes a certain kind of person to move blindly though the ocean depths with only sonar to warn you what might be ahead.

This movie touches all the bases, and is well made, but I found it a bit frustrating. Here’s the deal: There’s this WWII sub sitting on the bottom with $180 million in gold bars. A crew is assembled, six Brits and six Russkis, to operate a rusty old Soviet sub and grab the loot. Could you imagine a more explosive situation? The mutual suspicion quickly escalates to murder and disaster. In spite of all that, they get the gold, at the cost of several lives. But can they get away with it, in light of betrayal waiting for them topside?

I think they could have, if only they had worked together. But the position here is that Jude Law, the captain, is blinded by the gold and takes silly chances with their lives, when he could just surface and surrender. And I didn’t believe that these surviving hardcases and criminals would surrender to anybody. They would go down fighting. So the whole Captain Queeg-Ahab story line just didn’t fly … or surface … for me. Cap’n Jude could have solved the whole problem several times over by blowing the brains out of one guy, then another, but he doesn’t do it. And he would. He would. Hell, I would, for $180 million.