- Movie Rating -

Black Crab (2022)

| March 18, 2022

When I first saw the name Black Crab on the list of films coming to Netflix in March, my mind immediately formed an idea of what it might be.  I imagined a coming-of-age story of a poor kid growing up slowing in the Louisiana bayou with memories of his Gran-Momma cookin’ up some shrimp and crab, Daddy drinkin’ too much and good-hearted Momma who left and went to Heaven after she came down with “The Cancer.”  All of it wrapped up in a summer that included shenanigans, early romance, weird eccentrics and the notion that “nothing would ever be the same again.”

The last thing I expected was that a movie called Black Crab would be a tense Swedish science fiction action thriller about a rag-tag group of soldiers who are tasked with transporting two mysterious packages across wide expanses of ice in order to stop a war that has all but decimated civilization.

Okay, that sounds like a limp pitch meeting, but bear with me.  This is a pretty good thriller with a lot of great action scenes, zero character development, a narrative that is empty of exposition but still, never-the-less remains compelling.

Noomi Rapace, who might have the most mournful face that I can recall, plays Caroline Edh a single mother who, as the film opens, is stranded in traffic with her daughter Vanja (Stella Marcimain Klintberg) when masked men begin firing machine guns at anything that moves.  In the chaos, Vanja and Caroline are separated.

Cut to several years later. Civilization has collapsed and has apparently become a military state.  Caroline is still separated from Vanja but is now a hardened soldier in a war whose motivations are never explained – it doesn’t really matter.  Her Colonel recruits she and an assembled team to Operation: Black Crab, a mission to transport a pair of mysterious packages across the ice to an ice-covered archipelago.  Everything is frozen with snow and ice but the ice is too thin for vehicles.  That means that the team must traverse a long stretch of ice to get to the island fortress with the packages that contain something that will apparently bring this war to an end.

Okay, so the notion of a band of mercenaries ice skating sounds utterly ridiculous and I have to admit that the sight of soldiers loaded down with big effin’ machine guns, military wear, and full packs on their backs shushing their feet back and forth while silhouetted against the glooming twilight did make me smile.  But director Adam Berg makes it plausible.  We understand why they need to be on skates and he uses the peril to full effect.  I’m all for originality, and I can say I hadn’t seen this approach before.  It wad kinda nice to see something new.

If this all sounds like stolid, re-baked action stuff you’ve seen before, you’re not entirely wrong, but a motivation is offered to Edh that keeps things moving.  Early on, she flatly points out that this is a suicide mission (and it is) but her motivation is purely maternal, for she has been told the Vanja awaits her in a refugee camp on the other side.  This keeps her moving, keeps her strong and strengthens her resolve to stay alive.

Rapace reminds me a lot of Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, a blend of toughness mixed with maternal instincts that keep her going, but she never forgets to be a human being.  This is a soul-crushing war in which individual lives have become basically meaningless and you can see in her eyes the determination to keep moving forward even though she instinctively knows that it is probably for nothing.

I like that human touch, but I wish that the movie was more fleshed out.  The fact that we don’t understand the particulars of the war, which countries are fighting, or what the motivations are is a little frustrating and it gives the ending kind of cold emptiness.  I know that the point is that all wars are the same and the blood flows with the same frequency, but a little more engagement might have helped.  A movie this grim needs to be more than just escapism.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2022) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty