Black Crab (2022) ☆☆1/2(2.5/4): A risk mission on the ice

Swedish Netflix film “Black Crab”, which was released a few days ago, does not bring anything particularly new to its gritty genre territory, and that was rather disappointing to me when I watched it in one early morning. Although it is not boring at all as a fairly passable action thriller flick, the movie merely slides from one expected plot point to another without much surprise for us, and it is also hampered further by its overlong final act which feels pedestrian at best and tedious at worst.

During its opening part, the movie promptly throws us into a grim near-future world which has been torn apart by some big war for years. When its heroine Caroline Edh (Noomi Rapace) arrives at a spot near a military base belonging to her army, the movie gives us a brief glimpse on how dire things have been for not only soldiers but also refugees living around the military base, and then we get the first action scene when our heroine suddenly finds herself ambushed by a bunch of thugs.

Anyway, Edh manages to arrive in the military base in the end, and she and several other selected soldiers soon have a private meeting with Colonel Raad (David Dencik). While their army is hopelessly losing the war at present, there is still a small but significant chance for the ultimate victory for them, and Colonel Raad wants Edh and several other soldiers to accomplish one very risky mission for that. They are going to carry a certain important secret item to a remote island whose surrounding sea area happens to be frozen hard enough for skating across it, and, considering numerous risks including enemy soldiers, this is more or less than a suicide mission for them.

Edh is initially reluctant, but then Colonel Raad has an offer she cannot possibly refuse. As shown from the prologue scene, she unfortunately happened to be separated from her young daughter in the middle of the war, and Colonel Raad promises to Edh that she will reunite with her daughter once she accomplishes the mission. Although she has some doubt on that promise, Edh eventually decides to follow the order, and she and several other soldiers subsequently take the first step of their perilous journey across the frozen sea.

It goes without saying that Edh and other soldiers, led by Forsberg (Aliette Opheim), will have to depend a lot on each other for accomplishing the mission and then surviving in the end. While carefully sliding across the frozen sea, they must be constantly watchful of enemy attack, and, above all, they must be wary of any danger hidden in the frozen ice floor, which can be broken under their feet at any chance.

Not so surprisingly, the situation soon gets worse due to one unfortunate incident, and that leads to a conflict between Edh and Nylund (Jakob Oftebro), whom Edh incidentally met before arriving at their military base. Because of what happened between them at that point, Edh does not trust Nylund much, but she has no choice but to accept his leadership just like other soldiers because, well, they all are expected to follow their military protocol no matter what happens.

As the main characters continue to slide from one spot to another, director Adam Berg, who also adapted Jerker Virdsong’s novel with Pelle Rådström, and his crew members including cinematographer Jonas Alarik fill the screen with more coldness and grimness. At one point, the mood becomes a little warm when Edh and other soldiers come across an unexpected moment of hospitality, but that is soon interrupted by harsh reality, and they are reminded again of how treacherous their journey can be.

That secret item to be delivered to the island functions as a MacGuffin at first, but it is eventually revealed around the midpoint of the film, and that is where the movie becomes less interesting than before. It is not much of a spoiler to tell you that our heroine eventually accomplishes the mission, but the movie attempts to go further than that during its 20 minutes, and what we get is pretty mediocre despite lots of shootings on the screen.

At least, the movie is supported well by another strong performance from Noomi Rapace, who has diligently impressed us since her unforgettable breakout turn in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (2009). While Edh is another tough heroine with some vulnerability in her movie acting career, Rapace still plays her character with admirable conviction, and her effective acting holds our attention to the end. In case of several main cast members surrounding Rapace, they are mostly stuck in their thankless supporting roles, but Aliette Opheim, Jakob Oftebro, and Dar Salim bring enough gritty quality to their military characters, and David Dencik leaves a considerable impression despite his very brief appearance early in the movie.

Overall, “Black Crab” is occasionally engaging to watch thanks to Rapace as well as Berg’s competent direction, but it does not distinguish itself enough compared to many other similar military action films out there. When I watched its trailer several weeks ago, I had a pretty good idea about what and how it would be about, and, to my dissatisfaction, it does not exceed my mild expectation without having much to remember. Sure, you can watch it just for killing your free time, but there are better options out there, you know.

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