Coming to Netflix on March 18th, Black Crab is a Swedish action thriller set in a post-apocalyptic world torn apart by war. Directed by Adam Berg and starring Noomi Rapace, it’s a great looking film with war elements that really manage to strike a chord, with everything that’s currently going on in the world.
Caroline Edh (Noomi Rappace) and her daughter Vanja are in their car, stuck in traffic, when they begin to notice people running past them and away from some kind of disturbance at the head of the queue. As they start to get out of the car to take a look, shots break out, some of the runners are hit and chaos ensues. Armed soldiers wearing balaclavas then walk up the line of cars, shooting at anyone who stayed behind in their car, while Caroline and Vanja hide under a blanket on the back seat of theirs. It’s a pretty intense and terrifying start.
When we rejoin Caroline at a later date, she’s without her daughter and travelling in a freight train with others. We’ve no idea how long war has been raging but the world is a pretty bleak place. People are living in tents on the city streets and smoke billows up from buildings that have either been badly damaged or destroyed. A soldier meets Caroline off the train and escorts her to an army base, where she joins a small group of soldiers who are all waiting to learn of the secret mission they’ve been recruited to undertake.
The colonel calls them in where they are briefed on their mission. For the first time in 37 years, the archipelago between the mainland and the open sea is covered in ice. It’s too thin to support vehicles and too thick for boats to push through, but it is strong enough to support a soldier. A soldier on ice skates. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity, the group are required to transport two canisters that could potentially end the war once and for all – sideways, behind enemy lines, like a crab in the dark (hence the name Operation Black Crab!) and across 100 nautical miles of ice. After a night’s sleep that’s cut short by heavy gunfire and shelling nearby, the group of soldiers have to move pretty quickly, hurrying to the nearby pier and setting off across the ice, under the cover of darkness.
When we’re in the midst of all-out war, you’d have thought that following a group of soldiers skating across 100 miles of ice at night wouldn’t be that exciting, but Black Crab does manage to throw in enough curveballs and drama to keep things interesting – from patches of thin ice that need navigating to enemy helicopters flying overhead, even a stopover in a civilian home near the water’s edge quickly turns sour. There are obviously some trust issues among the group too, with them having only just been thrown all together. It’s just a shame that so many of the characters within the group are so thinly defined. Aside from Caroline, who also has another motive for wanting to complete their mission, the rest of the team are all fairly forgettable, meaning those of them who don’t make it all the way aren’t exactly missed.
While I’m touching on the negatives, there are a few other things that didn’t work for me, aside from the characters. The war aspect never feels clearly defined – how did it all start, what’s happened, who’s involved? And there are flashbacks to Caroline and Vanja just trying to live some kind of normality in among it all that don’t really help with regards to any sense of timeline or relevance. And the finale, when the remaining team members arrive at their destination, isn’t anywhere near as exciting or dramatic as it thinks it is.
Now for some positives. The visuals in Black Crab are pretty impressive, beautiful and eerie in equal measure. Whether it’s skaters gliding across the ice while explosions on the mainland light up the sky behind them, or the depiction of war-torn cities. With all the horror that’s currently taking place in Ukraine, much of the movie, particularly the terrifying open scenes suddenly feel so much more real, really adding to the overall drama and suspense.
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Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.