Once upon a time, apocalyptic movies were basically a genre unto themselves. The depiction of worlds where everything went wrong and where humanity went backward into their more primal instincts seemed to be fascinating for both audiences and filmmakers alike. Nowadays, this type of movie is seen less often, with just a handful of examples released in the last decade. However, this time, Sweden has come forward with the intention of creating a better balance, by releasing Black Crab, an apocalyptic movie made just like in the old days.
Black Crab is a film directed by Adam Berg and stars Noomi Rapace, Jakob Oftebro, Dar Salim, Ardalan Esmali, and Erik Enge. The film tells the story of a mother who, after losing her daughter in the midst of a war that has ended the world, sees herself attached to a suicide mission with the promise of getting her daughter back and ending the war, all at the same time.
If there is something that is commendable about Black Crab, it is the atmosphere. Creating that feeling of hopelessness is not an easy task, but it is mandatory to have it in order to properly convey that the world as we know it is no more. Black Crab creates a sense of fear and desperation from its opening minutes, where we find normal life being destroyed by the violence of man.
Black Crab is not a movie with laughs or jokes, there is almost no levity, and the few instances where it dares to appear are short-lived. Director Adam Berg and his production design team create a wonderful world that visually conveys everything that a long-running world in the modern day would bring to humanity. It is not a pretty sight.
In terms of plot, the movie isn’t doing anything new at all. You might have seen this exact storyline before many times, but thankfully, the filmmakers have managed to pull off a solid enough execution that makes the story feel worthy of the audience’s time. There are enough twists and turns to keep audiences guessing, and the story offers enough space for the characters to express their desires and motivations. The characters know they will probably not come back from the mission, so when death arrives for them, the losses feel more impactful.
The nature of the war is never explained, and this might leave some people guessing throughout the whole film. Why is this happening? With whom are we fighting? The movie creates clear answers. It doesn’t matter why the war is happening. War is just wrong at any level, and the fact that the citizens and low-ranking members of the military don’t even know what is real and what is propaganda really fits to a tooth.
The wars are created by politicians, generals, and admirals but are only fought by privates, and sergeants and suffered by civilians. The movie presents this topic of war in a very clear-cut manner. With whom are they fighting? It doesn’t matter which flag or religion they are fighting under, because the enemy is human as well.
The main group of actors does a very good job of developing their characters as long as they can, but as expected, most of them don’t get a great opportunity to do so to a great extent. We know them well enough to care, but not well enough to love them or suffer when they suffer.
Noomi Rapace is one of the best actors in Europe right now, and since her term as Lisbeth Salander, she has proved time and time again that she can carry a movie with ease. She does just that in Black Crab, presenting a character that is interesting enough to follow for two hours straight.
The rest of the cast does a good job, with Oftebro being a highlight, thanks to a character that starts as very suspicious but grows enough through the movie to make it likable. Towards the end of the film, many people in the audience will have a completely new vision of the character. It is a success for the writing and for the actor.
The production values are not very consistent, sometimes the movie feels very big and other times it feels very small, but either way, the effort made by the filmmakers is noticeable. The ambition behind such a project like this needs to be celebrated.
The cinematography by Jonas Alarik also takes center stage, as most of the movie takes place at night for plot reasons. Alarik manages to make the movie as understandable as possible under these conditions, and he also manages to get some pretty cool shots near the beginning of the first act.
Black Crab is not fresh or unique, but the message it delivers is powerful, especially at this current time. There is enough action to satisfy those looking for it, and Rapace keeps showing how amazingly constant she can be.