Could January 2015 be the best January ever?
January is traditionally the dump month, when last minute Oscar hopefuls gain steam and studios fill multiplex screens with movies they'd prefer not to have on their permanent records. But that's all changing thanks to an overloaded release schedule. Today, if a studio has a good movie, it makes more sense to put it out when someone has time to actually see it then stack on top of industry-approved seasonal dates. A radical practice.
Take “Black Sea,” a submarine thriller starring Jude Law. Based on the first trailer, it's a claustrophobic ticking clock drama with a little bit of pulp (“How much Nazi gold is in that sub?” “$182 million!”) and a lotta bit of Scottish accents. It's not bombastic enough to go toe-to-toe with the “Avengers 2,” nor does it have the inherent prestige factor to duke it out with Harvey Weinstein during the October-through-December window. Everything in the “Black Sea” trailer indicates a nuts and bolts submarine movie – solid entertainment without any of the flourishes.
The film is the latest from “Last King of Scotland” and “How I Live Now” director Kevin MacDonald, who won an Oscar for Best Documentary Feature with 1999's “One Day in September.” After his resurgence in the “Sherlock Holmes” movies, Law has taken on a string of roles that downplay his former life as a leading man. “Alfie” this is not. With a thick brogue and a dad sweater, his “Black Sea” character is just another guy battling his turncoat partners in crime while thousands of miles under the sea. Scoot McNairy, Ben Mendelsohn, and Michael Smiley (“Kill List”) costar.
“Black Sea” joins a number of other high-profile January 2015 releases with varying degrees of silliness, including “Taken 3,” the Blacklist-approved zombie/vampire/alien movie “Kitchen Sink,” David Koepp's “Mortdecai,” the Olivia Wilde-led horror film “Lazarus” and Michael Mann's cyber-thriller “Blackhat.”
“Black Sea” dives into theaters Jan. 23