Posts Tagged ‘"Black Crab"’

“BLACK CRAB: My rating: C+ (Netflix)

114 minutes | No MPAA rating

The Swedish “Black Crab” is really two movies.

The first — the good one —is an icy “lost patrol” adventure steeped in an end-of-the-world angst reminiscent of  Cormack McCarthy’s The Road.

The other movie resembles the finale of any number of James Bond films…complete with mad scientists operating in a hollowed-out mountain stronghold.

The emotional/intellectual distance between the two is enough to cause whiplash.

We  meet Caroline (Noomi Rapace) and her teenage daughter Vanja (Stella Marcimain Klintberg) in a car in a traffic jam. Up ahead there’s shooting. Desperate people run past. Bullets whiz by. The women hunker down in the back seat beneath a blanket and hope they’re not noticed.

The next time we see Caroline she’s about 20 pounds lighter (nobody does emaciated like Rapace) and carrying a military-grade rifle.  It’s the middle of a brutal Scandanavian winter. Stockholm is a bombed-out ruin. (Can’t see this stuff without thinking of Ukraine.)

Moreover, the war is all but lost.  We sort of assume that from the fact that Caroline — a middle-aged housewife — has been given a uniform and pushed into service.

Turns out that she’s uniquely qualified for a special operation that may end the war.  She and a half-dozen fellow soldiers will penetrate enemy lines and deliver a Top Secret package to a laboratory 100 miles to the north.

The enemy (never identified) controls the skies, so they’re to go on foot — or rather, on skates, using the frozen ocean as their highway (the ice is too thin for vehicles, too thick for boats). 

This “Black Crab” is a suicide assignment, but Caroline has special motivation. She’s been told that her daughter awaits her at mission’s end. 

Written and directed by Adam Berg (with a screenplay assist from Aliette Opheim and David Dencik), “Black Crab” is stingy on exposition.  Little is explained…we’re just thrown into the mission.  

Noomi Rapace

One by one the little unit is whittled down.  There are so many ways one can die out here…drowning, hypothermia, gunfire.

From casual conversations we pick up a little about Caroline’s comrades (portrayed by Jakob Oftebro, Dar Salim, Ardalan Esmaili, Aliette Opheim and Eric Enge), but they are painted in broad strokes. 

 The main question — the only one that matters — is who will be next to bite the big one?

And then there’s the nature of the mysterious parcel they are to deliver. 

As a taut tale of survival, “Black Crab” grabs us early.  There’s a fatalistic pall hanging over the proceedings, and the production design (along the way the soldiers take shelter in abandoned houses, an icebound ferry, a wrecked WWII-styled pillbox) reflects the weirdly beautiful but miserably hostile environment. 

It’s only when Caroline and one surviving teammate reach their destination that “Black Crab” falls apart.  Up to that point the story’s gaping holes have been kept at bay through the sheer effectiveness of the direction, design, action sequences and performances.

Now, with much-anticipated answers at hand, all we get is a major intellectual letdown.

| Robert W. Butler

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