A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Black Sea is a tense, frequently violent submarine thriller starring Jude Law. Language is the biggest issue, with almost constant uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well plenty of other words. There are a few killings and several deaths, with some bloody wounds and burned corpses seen, but the majority of violence hinges on the sub itself crashing. There's also a pervasive sense of tension and anxiety. Characters smoke and drink in a background way, and there are subtle references to teenage sex, as well as some kissing. Characters do exhibit some teamwork (though it eventually falters), but the bigger message is a condemnation of greed; characters' decisions are affected by the presence of gold.
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What's the story?
Fired from his longtime job at a marine salvage company, submarine captain Robinson (Jude Law) is adrift until he learns of the existence of a sunken, allegedly gold-filled Nazi sub in the Black Sea near Russia. Because of legal tangles, no government can go after it, but a private party can. Securing funding from a shady source, Robinson assembles a crew of American and Russian sailors and divers, promising them each an equal share of the gold. But fighting among the men leads to a terrible accident, stranding the sub on an underwater ridge. They'll have to work together to get out alive, with the lure of the gold, as well as other, unseen dangers, pulling them back.
Is it any good?
BLACK SEA is a solid, mostly thrilling submarine movie ... with one big flaw (see below). Director Kevin Macdonald (of the similarly tense Touching the Void) uses clarity of space on board the sub, establishing physical relationships between characters and using them for suspense. And as in some of the great films about gold, especially Greed and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, greed begins creeping in like a disease, rotting the characters and their moral centers.
Macdonald has assembled a fine cast, with Law giving one of his sturdiest performances and character actors like Scoot McNairy and Ben Mendelsohn following his lead. But right in the center of the movie is a single character who seems to have been brought aboard the sub for no apparent reason other than to drive the plot in specific directions. The character as written is a shortcut, a device to solve certain story problems more quickly. It's an annoying betrayal in an otherwise decent movie.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Black Sea's violence. How much is shown? What do you think its intent was? How did it affect you? Was it realistic? Shocking? Thrilling?
What's the appeal of submarine movies? How is this one similar to or different from others you may have seen?
How does this movie treat the themes of greed? How do greedy characters behave? How do we combat greed? Who is guiltier in this movie, greedy men or greedy corporations?
- In theaters: January 23, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: May 5, 2015
- Cast: Jude Law, Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn
- Director: Kevin Macdonald
- Studio: Focus Features
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language throughout, some graphic images and violence
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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