🇸🇪 BLACK CRAB 🇸🇪
Black Crab (2022) is a Swedish action/adventure/drama/sci-fi/thriller/war feature film. 1hr 5min and certificate 15 in the U.K. In Swedish with subtitles.
“Set in a post-apocalyptic world, this Swedish action thriller follows six soldiers sent on a covert mission to transport a mysterious package across a frozen archipelago without knowing what dangers lie ahead or who – if anyone – they can trust.” IMDb
Noomi Rapace as Caroline Edh
Aliette Opheim as Forsberg
David Dencik as Colonel Raad
Jakob Oftebro as Nylund
Dar Salim as Malik
Ardalan Esmaili as Karimi
Erik Enge as Granvik
Cecilia Säverman as Female Robber
Susan Taslimi as Admiral Nordh
Martin Hendrikse as Soldier
Joakim Sällquist as Soldier
Director: Adam Berg
Writers: Adam Berg, Pele Rådström based on a novel by Jerker Virdborg
Cinematographer: Jonas Alarik
Editor: Kristofer Nordic
Costume Designer: Elsa Fischer
Make-Up Designer: Lois McIntosh
Special Effects Supervisor: Johan Harnesk
Stunt Coordinator: Kai Kolstad Rødseth
This is the first feature film for Adam Berg who is principally a video filmmaker.
Locations: Some scenes were filmed in the “Bahnhofstrasse” server storage cave; most famous for being the wiki leaks server’s base. IMDb
The glass that Colonel Raad drinks whiskey from is the same design as that used by Deckard in Blade Runner (1982).
The final scene was shot outside Filmhuset, the Swedish Film Institute Foundation in Stockholm.
The cinematographer Jonas Alarik has a cv that includes Snabba Cash (TV series), Caliphate, Britt-Marie Was Here, Follow the Money and Hamilton: In the Interest of the Nation. Editor Kristofer Nordin edited The Hunt for a Murderer, White Wall, Moscow Noir, Liberty, Hassel, Midnight Sun and Before We Die!
Elsa Fischer was also the costume designer on the film Border. Lois McIntosh worked on hair and makeup on The King’s Man, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, The Trip, Lamb etc.
Special Effects Supervisor Johan Harnesk has worked on Beck, Anxious People, The Unlikely Murderer, JJ+E, Max Anger: With One Eye Open, Heder, Snabba Cash (series), Snow Angels, The Thin Blue Line, The Lawyer, Top Dog and Caliphate etc.
As a stunt performer and coordinator Kai Kolstad Rødseth has been on productions such as State of Happiness, No Time to Die, Post Morten: No One Dies in Skarnes, The Worst Person in the World, Witch Hunt, The Tunnel, Beforeigners, Wisting, 22 July, The 12th Man, Norsemen, The Snowman (Michael Fassbender’s Stunt Double), Occupied and Valkyrien.
⚠️ This review contains some spoilers ⚠️
Black Crab has been on my watchlist since it was first announced. As a big fan of Noomi Rapace and several other cast members, it was a must-watch for me. I enjoy an action/thriller movie as well and have seen some great ones over the years. So once this film arrived it was no hardship to have to watch it with a review in mind. So how did Black Crab deliver?
The opening scene of this film is fantastic and I was hopeful that this excitement, sense of jeopardy and tension could be maintained for the rest of the movie. Sadly, it was not to be.
Before I turn to what were, for me, quite major issues with this as a feature film, I do want to explore all the things I liked about it.
Firstly, the cinematography and visuals generally were excellent. There are some stunning night scenes of skating over ice and frozen bodies, skies lit by flares, distant lights and helicopters with searchlights etc. The daytime scenes, the wreckage of buildings, cottages out on islands etc. are also visually appealing. Underwater photography and scenes are impressive! The music worked very well with the visuals.
All the acting in this is good, especially taking into account that some of the cast do not appear for very long. Noomi is very badass in this and I thought Dar Salim was very impressive. Ardalan Esmaili and David Dencik impressed, as always, in what are not big roles here. The actual filming for cast and crew cannot have been easy in those conditions (it definitely made me want to put on my Icelandic sweater and drink a nice hot drink!)
The costuming was very effective and the make-up (especially of wounds) was well done. The skating was something different from the norm and the stunt work was impressive as a whole. I did wince a few times at the crunching falls onto ice etc. (I have a personal talent for this!) and I loved a lot of the action sequences!
Now for some of the negatives. Overall, because the story of Black Crab is not in itself enough to drive the film along it needed characters to do so, and sadly, the characters are under-written and flimsy. The effect was that I did not care enough about them (and I really DID want to care!)
It is unclear what their motivations are except for Edh’s being a mum and being tricked into thinking she will see her daughter again. Her thinking this desire outweighed mass death by biological weapons did not (funnily enough) help me empathise with her; though she redeems herself. There are fantastic actors in this cast but I do feel they were under-utilised.
We got at least one back story too late, leading to one of those “Well he’s gonna die now” moments. The cliché fireside chat of what their dreams are for after the war felt like it came too early in the film.
Worldbuilding or lack of it is another issue. I do not need masses of details of what caused the civil war, what has happened so far and so on but I do think the lack of this context hampers the way the film plays out. Other films have used something as simple as captions (think Star Wars).
It tries to make big meaningful points that war is hell and that often (but always folks) one side is just as bad as the others, or that those in positions of power and privilege rarely suffer? Do these ideas need telegraphing in dialogue to the audience or can you just show rather than tell and work that out for themselves?
The final 10-15 minutes were all over the place for me, lacking sufficient tension, believability and a real punch to the gut. The final underwater scene was poignant and visually beautiful but seemed out of step with the rest of the movie.
I suspect that more shaky-cam may have increased a sense of tension and realism, especially in the later, weaker scenes.
Dodgy battlefield first aid (feeling for a wrist pulse while wearing thick gloves was the worst) had me eye-rolling at times.
At the end of Black Crab, I cannot say that it was a waste of my time having watched because I loved the visuals and the action scenes but the execution of the story as a whole leaves a lot to be desired. I would have liked less width and more depth, notably of characters.
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