Black Sea (and five of the best films set in submarines)
Out next week (April 13th) on DVD & Blu-Ray, Black Sea is the latest film from director Kevin Macdonald, the man behind films like State of Play and the brilliant Idi Amin biopic The Last King of Scotland. Jude Law stars as Captain Robinson, the recently divorced, down-on-his-luck commander of an under-sea salvage vessel whose problems soon get worse when he finds himself made redundant.
While drowning his sorrows in a local bar, Robinson meets his friend Kurston (Daniel Ryan), who introduces him to another friend, a Russian sailor named Blackie (Konstantin Khabensky) and tells him he knows the location of a previously undiscovered Nazi U-boat laying at the bottom of the Black Sea, loaded with a long-lost cargo of gold bars worth an estimated $182m.
Blackie and Kurston want to put together a a salvage operation and Robinson agrees to meet with a mysterious financial backer named Lewis, who agrees to fund the trip. Robinson and his friends form a crew, half of the men English, half of them Russian, offering an equal split of the recovered loot for each man on the salvage team. However, once at sea a rift begins to develop between the Russian and English factions of the crew and when somebody has the bright idea that by getting rid of some of the crew they can bag themselves a larger share of the recovered booty, things start to get nasty.
As you'd expect from a film set largely on a submarine, Macdonald's thriller is as claustrophobic as it is tense. While not packed with big name stars, the cast are well chosen and do a great job of supporting Law's role as captain, while Law himself turns in a strong performance as the beleaguered Robinson, looking as haggard as any salty sea dog you could imagine.
Those with any detailed knowledge of submersibles will no doubt find holes in some of the plot lines, but even then this is an enjoyable film with some strong performances. You can find the trailer below and pick up Macdonald's new film next week on DVD or Blu-Ray, but in the meantime we've picked out another five of the best films set on submarines for you to sink yourselves into...
The Hunt for Red October
The first of American author Tom Clancy's novels to be adapted for the big screen, John McTiernan's 1990 film stars Sean Connery as Marko Ramius, the captain of a Soviet nuclear sub who goes rogue and intends to defect to the United States, along with the submarine in his command, handing them the details of the ships experimental stealth propulsion system into the bargain. Alec Baldwin co-stars in the role of Clancy's most famous character, Jack Ryan, who tries to facilitate the Soviet captain's defection. Also starring Sam Neill, James Earl Jones and Scott Glen, this is a film for anybody who enjoys a cold war flick.
Released in 1981, Wolfgang Petersen's superb film was later spun out as a TV mini-series under the same name , but the original version is often considered one of the best war films ever made. Based on Lothar G. Buckheim's 1973 novel, Das Boot is set during WWII and follows the crew of German submarine U96, detailing life aboard a wartime submarine in all its gritty detail. Depicting both the thrilling but terrifying battle sequences and the extreme boredom that results from long periods hunting for enemy vessels, Petersen's film is perhaps one of the most accurate and intelligent accounts of naval life ever to appear in cinemas. Don't let the subtitles put you off, this is a must-see for any war film fanatic.
K-19: The Widowmaker
Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson star in this 2002 film from Kathryn Bigelow, based on the true story of the first Soviet nuclear submarine. Hurriedly completed in order for the Russians to catch up with the West's nuclear sub development, the film details the first of several accidents suffered by the vessel ver the course of its career. Neeson and Ford wrestle with with problems caused by a faulty nuclear reactor on the sub, nearly sinking the ship and eventually killing 28 of the ship's crew as the result of radiation poisoning. It's a grim depiction of the often reckless desperation to gain the upper hand during the cold war, but thanks to some great performances from Neeson and Ford it's also a completely riveting watch.
James Cameron has directed some of the biggest-grossing blockbusters in history with the likes of Titanic and Avatar and need little introduction these days, but in the 1980s he was just beginning to make a name for himself with bombastic, sci-fi / action flicks like The Terminator and Aliens, as well as this little gem from 1989. Starring the permanently menacing Ed Harris as the head of a commercial diving team looking to salvage a lost nuclear submarine, the crew find more than they bargained for when the encounter a strange alien life form living amidst the murky depths of the ocean. The Abyss has more in common with early John Carpenter films than the likes of Titanic, but that's no bad thing as far as we're concerned and anybody who enjoyed cameron's other 80s films will surely enjoy this.
20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
Jules Verne's most famous novel was given the screen adaptation treatment in 1954 by director Richard Fleischer, who enlisted James Mason to star as the commander of the submarine Nautilus, Captain Nemo, alongside Kirk Douglas in the role of Ned Land. When stories begin coming to shore of a giant horned whale named the Narwhal attacking and sinking ships, an expedition is launched to investigate. A timeless classic.