Black Sea (film)

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Black Sea
Black Sea (film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byKevin Macdonald
Produced by
  • Charles Steel
  • Kevin Macdonald
Written byDennis Kelly
Music byIlan Eshkeri
CinematographyChristopher Ross
Edited byJustine Wright
Distributed byFocus Features
Release date
  • 5 December 2014 (2014-12-05) (UK)
  • 23 January 2015 (2015-01-23) (US)
Running time
115 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom[2]
  • United States[2]
Box office$1.6 million[3]

Black Sea is a 2014 submarine disaster thriller film directed by Kevin Macdonald, written by Dennis Kelly, and starring Jude Law.[4] The film was released in the United Kingdom on 5 December 2014, and in the United States on 23 January 2015.[5]


Robinson (Jude Law), a veteran captain of under-sea salvage who is recently divorced and estranged from his young son, receives news that he is to be made redundant. His employer gives him £8,640 severence pay and he is asked to clean out his desk and leave the premises immediately.

Later, while having a drink with some former colleagues, Robinson meets up with his friend Kurston and a Russian called Blackie (Konstantin Khabensky). Kurston informs the duo of an idea to make money. He tells them about a German Type VIIC[note 1] U-boat from World War II that sank off the coast of Georgia with a cargo of gold worth millions and how their former employer found the U-boat's location but was unable to salvage it due to the Russo-Georgian War. He also informs them both of a plan he has been working on to secretly recover the gold. After meeting with Kurston, Robinson agrees to meet with an unknown backer called Lewis.

Lewis agrees to fund Robinson's expedition on the grounds he receives a 40% split of the proceeds up to $40 million, a 20% cut on any amount above that, and that his executive Daniels (Scoot McNairy) accompany the expedition. Robinson agrees to the deal. Upon returning home Robinson finds a youth, Tobin, who notifies him of Kurston's suicide and indicates they were friends. Robinson takes the young man in and decides to bring him along on the expedition, and acquires a Foxtrot-class submarine from the Port of Sevastopol. The crew is 50% Russian and 50% British and almost immediately there are issues between the two groups. Only Blackie speaks Russian and English and the Russians view the young Tobin as a bad omen, mistakenly assuming he is a virgin when he is in fact an expecting father.

Due to the close confines, tension begins to mount between the two crews. Robinson makes the decision to split the take equally between each crewman. Due to the mounting pressures the crew fall out and there is a fight leading to Fraser (Ben Mendelsohn) losing his head and stabbing and killing Blackie. In the ensuing scuffle a fire breaks out and the sub is damaged leading to an explosion which knocks Robinson unconscious and kills at least 2 men.

Robinson wakes up 18 hours later to find tensions at breaking point. The Russians have taken over half of the boat with the British in the other half. The vessel is also badly damaged and they have no means to speak with the Russians as Blackie was killed. The sub's drive shaft is damaged but they discover they are close to the old U-boat and may be able to transfer its drive shaft and save the boat. Tensions continue to mount but Robinson discovers Morozov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) speaks English.

Robinson sends Tobin with Fraser and another diver to recover the drive-shaft and the gold. While making their way back, the third diver (David Threlfall) perishes when his air hose gets cut. Through Morozov they manage to get the Russians to install the drive-shaft and get the sub moving again. At this stage Daniels admits to Robinson that his prior employer set them up such that they are being used to do the dangerous work, while the employer waits to seize the gold as soon as the submarine surfaces. Robinson then decides to remain submerged and travel to Turkey, to try to keep the gold and avoid arrest. Furthermore, he decides they will attempt a risky navigation through a narrow channel, against the wishes of the crew. Meanwhile Daniels persuades Fraser to murder Zaytsev thus forcing Robinson's hand, since there are no longer enough men to safely operate the sub. At this point a second fire and explosion sends the sub back to the seafloor, and the sub begins to take on water.

Fraser and the rest of the remaining crew try to repair the leaks but their efforts are futile. Before they can escape, a panicked Daniels locks the bulkhead behind him leaving three men to drown but traps himself in the next compartment with his snagged clothing. Morozov closes the final bulkhead, leaving Daniels to drown and protecting Robinson, Tobin, and himself in the torpedo section where Robinson has hidden three escape suits. Robinson evacuates Tobin and Morozov and explains to Tobin that he will follow in the third suit using an emergency lever. Both men surface whereupon Morozov informs the young Tobin that there was no emergency lever and that Robinson had chosen to sacrifice himself. Soon after the third suit appears containing some of the gold and a picture of Robinson's family.



On 14 February 2012, news confirmed that director Kevin Macdonald was working with writer Dennis Kelly on his new film project Black Sea.[4] On 25 April 2013, Focus Features acquired the international distribution rights to the film for Cannes Film Festival, but when Focus Features International was shut down on 31 December 2013, Sierra / Affinity took over international sales for the film as Focus Features distribute the film and Kill the Messenger when it was announced on 5 February 2014.[8]


On 25 April 2013, Jude Law joined the cast of Black Sea as the lead actor.[6] Scoot McNairy joined the cast of the film on 17 June 2013, in the role of a sailor who convinces the captain to undertake a mission.[7]


On 8 August 2013, Focus Features CEO James Schamus and co-CEO Andrew Karpen announced that the shooting of the film Black Sea has started in the United Kingdom.[9][10] The filming of scenes took place on the River Medway in Strood.[11][12][13] The ex-Soviet Navy Foxtrot-class submarine "U-475 Black Widow"[note 2], which is moored on the Medway near Rochester and Strood, was used for some exterior shots. A scene showing the submarine setting sail shows Grain Power Station (or possibly Kingsnorth Power Station) in the background, briefly, though the submarine itself is likely CGI since the actual U-475 is not seaworthy.


Black Sea was released on 5 December 2014, in British cinemas. It had a limited release in the US on 23 January 2015.[5]


On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 80% based on 130 reviews, with an average rating of 6.4/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Black Sea may not be particularly deep, but thanks to Kevin Macdonald's judicious direction and a magnetic performance from Jude Law, it remains an efficiently well-crafted thriller."[14] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 62 out of 100, based on reviews from 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[15]

Writing about its influences from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre and Sorcerer, Mark Kermode of The Guardian said, "While it may not rival the films to which it alludes, this remains a convincingly muscular genre piece with plenty of dramatic clout."[16]


Award Category Nominees Result
24th Courmayeur Noir Film Festival[17] Black Lion for Best Feature Kevin Macdonald Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Based on Robinson studying plans for the U-651 to prepare for the expedition
  2. ^ Not its original name, but a name given to it by its private owners. Soviet Foxtrot-class subs were not named, and the Soviets never used U- designations.


  1. ^ "BLACK SEA (15)". British Board of Film Classification. 22 October 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Black Sea (2014)". British Film Institute. Retrieved 10 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Black Sea (2015)". The Numbers. Retrieved 5 February 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Kevin Macdonald travels to Black Sea and Eastern Europe". 14 February 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  5. ^ a b D'ALESSANDRO, ANTHONY (2 July 2014). "Focus Features To Bow 'Black Sea' In January". Retrieved 3 July 2014.
  6. ^ a b "Jude Law Joins Kevin Macdonald's Submarine Thriller 'Black Sea'". 25 April 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Scoot McNairy Shores Up 'Black Sea' Role". 17 June 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Focus Acquires Hot Cannes Title 'Black Sea' With Kevin Macdonald Directing Jude Law". 25 April 2013. Retrieved 10 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Filming Starts on Kevin MacDonald's Black Sea, Starring Jude Law". 8 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  10. ^ "Black Sea starts shooting with Jude Law in the Skipper's Seat". 8 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  11. ^ "Hollywood hunk Jude Law spotted filming in Medway". 8 August 2013. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  12. ^ "Actor Jude Law spotted filming Hollywood movie Black Sea on the River Medway in Strood". 8 August 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2013.
  13. ^ Kent Film Office. "Kent Film Office Black Sea Article".
  14. ^ "Black Sea (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  15. ^ "Black Sea Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  16. ^ Kermode, Mark (6 December 2014). "Black Sea review – Jude Law gets into deep water in a leaky Soviet sub". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 October 2016.
  17. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]