In a perfect society, a man’s worth cannot be measured in dollar signs. But we don’t live in a perfect society, and more often than not wealth is a determining factor in how we quantify our lives. It’s this greed that drives people to do insane things, like taking a dangerous and risky trip to the bottom of the ocean in a submarine in search for sunken treasure.
Robinson (Jude Law) has spent a good portion of his life working as a submarine captain, but when hard times hit the industry he is unfortunately let go within nothing to show except for a measly few thousand dollars for more than a decade of dedicated service. With nothing left to lose, Robinson finds a way to get revenge on his former employers by taking a treasure worth millions from right underneath their noses. The only problem is that said treasure lies in a sunken U-boat at the bottom of the sea. With the help of other working class submariners who have been wronged by the system, Robinson ventures into the dangerous depths of the ocean to strike it rich and right the wrongs that have been unfairly placed on him.
On its surface, Black Sea might seem like your typical heist film where a bunch of guys band together to go after the “big one” that will have them living the good life for the rest of their days. The film certainly starts off that way as Robinson gathers up his crew and plans out how they’re going to go about stealing millions of dollars worth of sunken Nazi gold. Where the film really starts to shine is once they get into the confines of the submarine. That’s when it becomes more than just another heist film.
Director Kevin Macdonald actually filmed Black Sea on a real submarine so all the cramped corridors and intricate metalwork you see is real. It creates a very claustrophobic atmosphere as these people are essentially trapped in a giant metal box at the bottom of the ocean. If anything goes wrong there is no one who can help them. And it isn’t long before things start to turn south for Robinson and his team.
They say money is the root of all evil and Black Sea makes a strong case for it. With so many men crammed together inside a tight compartment things are bound to get ugly quickly. Even despite an equal share of the treasure among all the men, greed drives some of them to turn on each other. Robinson himself isn’t immune to the attraction of riches as he continues to push forward regardless of the increasing danger. He’s determined to prove to everyone else that he’s worth more than just a few measly thousand dollars.
Black Sea offers up an interesting social commentary about the treatment of the working class and how underrepresented they are. Robinson and his fellow crew all believe that they received the short end of the stick and are now retaliating. Of course, money is the driving factor in all of this. Macdonald could have kept things simple and made just another deep sea thriller, but chose instead to go a little bit deeper and create an interesting film about the power and draw that greed has over people.