David Twohy's marvelous WWII genre-jumper, Below, is the last I can recall), so getting a new one via the worthwhile filmmaker Kevin Macdonald (How I Live Now and My Enemy's Enemy) is a welcome addition to the small pack. Mr. Macdonald, shown below, is a professional, versatile journeyman director and occasional writer whose work is usually a pleasure to view. He does not disappoint here, either, although his latest effort, BLACK SEA, proves a little too long (at a nearly two-hour length), while offering up a few too many cliches (the nut-case crew member who should never have been allowed on this voyage, but well, there he is, anyway) for maximum impact.
Dennis Kelly has set up situation and character introductions with speed and efficiency, and in Macdonald's strong hands, the well-chosen cast brings it all to sharp and immediate life. The movie's capable lead actor Jude Law, below, plays a seaman who is downsized from his job in the first scene, then soon finds himself involved in a plot to find some gold long buried at sea via the sinking of a Russian ship during World War II. If the story seems a tad "manufactured," well, we're in thriller territory: Best to not ask too many questions and simply "get on with it."
Ben Mendelsohn (below), who is always good and often quite scary. Here, he seems initially more subdued than usual (but every bit as creepy), though it is not long before he explodes, nearly taking the entire ship along with him.
Grigory Dobrygin (above) and Sergey Puskepalis (below).
Focus Features and running 115 minutes -- opens this Friday, January 23, on both U.S. coasts and across the U.S. the following Friday, January 30.