REVIEW: ‘Black Crab’ Offers Emotion and Action in Spades

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Black Crab - But Why Tho

Black Crab is a Swedish action thriller set in a post-apocalyptic world torn apart by war. By taking time to build out a world and a memory within it for his leads, writer-director manages to create a film that showcases the lengths a mother will go through for her child, and how that determination can be exploited. The film is based on a novel by Jerker Virdborg and co-written for the screen by Pelle RådströmBlack Crab stars Noomi Rapace, Aliette Opheim, Dar Salim, Jakob Oftebro, Ardalan Esmaili, and Martin Hendrikse.

During a long, harsh winter, six soldiers embark on a covert mission across a frozen archipelago, risking their lives to transport a mysterious package that could end the war. At the center of the six though is Caroline Edh, a former speed skater turned soldier whose dedication to the mission is rooted in her drive to get back to the daughter she was separated from. As they enter hostile enemy territory, they have no idea what dangers lie ahead or who—if anyone—they can trust.

Black Crab builds tension by throwing the audience into the thick of things immediately, bombs blasting, and attempts to build fear of the unknown. The world is built from the inside out. We know there is a war, we know Caroline has found herself at the center, and that she’s been trained to fight men bigger than her. Through flashbacks, Black Crab adds context to the world and to Caroline’s life, adding weight to her story and showing the audience exactly why she is beholden to the mission.

Rapace shines in her action moments, just as she’s done in her other Netflix Original action films. She knows her way around physical combat and the film is stronger for it. Additionally, Rapace’s ability to manage a logical demeanor and mission-driven while she’s struggling to meet her daughter under the surface makes her character stand out.

All of that said, Black Crab does suffer from pacing issues that affect the story most while the characters are traveling across the ice. While the elements are beautifully shot and have a terrifying atmosphere on their own, braving the elements hinders some of the story’s progress. Thankfully, however, the beauty of the nighttime shots and the attention to detail in the costuming and deterioration of our leads’ bodies in the harsh cold make up for it.

The film doesn’t do anything revolutionary, and given Rapace’s stunning physicality in action sequences, the film would have benefitted from throwing her into more one-on-one action moments. Rapace can shine emotionally, but with such a strong action lead that has proven herself more than capable in her filmography, it’s hard not to feel like she’s underutilized.

Of course, though, Black Crab is entertaining and Rapace’s Caroline is both fierce and tragic. With a bleak ending, it’s hard to finish the film and not think “What was the point of all this.” But, that’s by the film’s design. The war and the dying world its taking place in isn’t the real story in Black Crab. Instead, it’s about motherhood, the vulnerability that can be exploited because of it, and the strength as well.

Black Crab is available to stream exclusively on Netflix.


Black Crab
  • 6.5/10
    Rating - 6.5/10
6.5/10

TL;DR

Black Crab is entertaining and Rapace’s Caroline is both fierce and tragic. With a bleak ending, it’s hard to finish the film and not think “What was the point of all this.” But, that’s by the film’s design. The war and the dying world its taking place in isn’t the real story in Black Crab. Instead, it’s about motherhood, the vulnerability that can be exploited because of it, and the strength as well.