Black Crab review – the frozen and dirty half-dozen

March 19, 2022
M.N. Miller 0
Film, Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service
2.5

Summary

While engaging, Black Crab‘s often beautiful and eye-catching visuals crumble under the weight of a predictable story.

2.5

Summary

While engaging, Black Crab‘s often beautiful and eye-catching visuals crumble under the weight of a predictable story.

 This review of the Netflix film Black Crab does contain mild spoilers.

You say, “Black!” You say, “Crab?” No, this isn’t a high school pep rally. It’s the new Swedish Netflix film, Black Crab, a Liam Neeson-type action-thriller without the brooding action star. It has all the qualities from his filmography: A protagonist that will stop at nothing to save their daughter (Taken); a snow-covered world where bad guys are left for dead in the bitter cold (Cold Pursuit) and where the good guys are being chased by the bad (The Grey). All while trying to save humankind by trekking over a very unstable slab of frozen saltwater over an archipelago (Ice Road). The similarities are so similar that I half expect a remake to be released in theatres circa January 2023, where Neeson leads a team down the frozen Saint Lawrence Seaway to Fort Drum.

That’s not to say Black Crab is bad. It’s kind of entertaining for 120-minutes before it loses some steam. The film begins with Edh (Noomi Rapace) and Vanja (Stella Marcimain Klintberg) hiding in the backseat of their car. Why? An insurgence of enemy soldiers begins shooting citizens left and right. Now, in the present day, Edh is a highly trained soldier, and her daughter is nowhere to be found. All we know is Edh’s side is losing the war, and she has orders that she says are a suicide mission.

Along with five others, they must ice skate across frozen saltwater to deliver two capsules to an army base, or they will lose the war. So, it is a suicide mission, either way. However, they motivate her when her commander shows her a picture of her daughter, who is alive. She is living in a refugee camp. If she manages to deliver the canisters, they will ensure her daughter is waiting there for her. The group is a dirty half-dozen, if you will, as six soldiers skate with the world’s fate on their backs. Well, whoever has the canisters in their backpack. 

Writer and director Adam Berg found something incredibly effective in the film’s first half. He fills the camera with apocalyptic images that evoke similarities to Children of Men and Steven Spielberg’s War of the Worlds that evoke the feeling of the world ending and unsettling unrest. You will see the sniper, Granvik (Erik Enge), comment on the snowfall. But Edh informs him that it’s ash falling from the sky as they climb down on top of the ice while under heavy attack, the sky flickering a tint of orange as missiles bombard their base, and it slowly goes up in flames as they skate away. In perhaps the film’s best scene, Karimi (Aradalan Esmalli) trips in the ice on their journey. They have come upon a gravesite of hundreds of bodies frozen in time that have perished at the hands of their enemy.

These images stick with you, and the action can be visceral. However, the adaptation of Jerker Virdborg’s novel by Berg, and co-writer Pelle Rådström, pushes the boundaries of disbelief too many times, which takes away some enjoyment. You have the cockamamy plot of them skating over ice, which is refreshing. However, they are told to travel at night to stay hidden. Where though do you hide during daylight? They are on skates, but you only see them put on when they first take off. Yet, they keep jumping on and off the land as if they had them on the entire time.

Perhaps, the third act’s big plot point, as two team members try to escape, is the most head-scratching. Magically, one protective suit is available to change into, but magically one shows up so both can blend in to run. Then there is the issue of they are in an area where there are cameras. There is only one way in and out, and the guards know where they are going. There is no reason for them to allow anyone out of the area, alarm or not. 

Yes, Black Crab overstays its welcome with an additional twenty minutes that preaches more than it entertains. It can be frustratingly ambivalent by the end. While engaging, Berg’s stunning visual narrative crumbles under the weight of a predictable story.

What did you think of the Netflix film Black Crab? Comment below!

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