Adam Berg’s Black Crab has elements that leave me ambivalent. I keep imagining my own version of this film, one that explains too much of the lore that gets a fictional version of Sweden finding itself in civil war. I can only imagine my version of the film having its detractors. But the version we ended up with is equally unsatisfying because of its vagueness.
Nonetheless, Edh (Noomi Rapace), the film’s protagonist, starts out as a mother trying to lead herself and her daughter Vanja our of a war torn city. And ten minutes in, she travels using a train and a jeep to get to a base. There, the reluctant Swedish army recruit discovers that she’s taking part in the titular military operation. Here, she and a few other officers must skate across enemy – rebel? – lines to use a weapon that will decide the war for a weak government’s side.
Another thing that makes me ambivalent about Black Crab is its approach. In fairness, a film about war should capture its horrors. This film does that as well as show how nature affects warfare. The frozen oceans in Scandinavia is a landscape as interesting as the deserts of the Middle East or the oceans where naval warfare take place. Black Crab also takes place in Europe so it’s interesting to see what war is like in Europe since no one ever fought wars in that continent.
On the other hand, Black Crab takes itself way too seriously for a movie about people putting on ice skates to save their country. I mean, maybe it’s culturally specific for Scandinavians to take skaters seriously. And I could never. But if anything, it could have fully dived into how pulpy this concept is. Imagine – an 80s version of this film would have been awesome enough to fill repertory theatres for decades.
Again, there’s some beautiful imagery here. Black Crab depicts the team members as shadows crossing the Northern sky. As five members become four, then two, then just Edh because she’s the famous one, she skates through the frozen sea half alive. It’s nice to see a war that uses enough bright colours instead of the typical unsaturated blues. But at other times, it’s too foggy even for a winter film.
Lastly, unlike the team, who have a goal in mind, the film seems to not know where it’s going. I don’t know if this is because the source material was this formless or if the adaptation ended up this way, but alas. At one point it’s like The Thing in that both she and fellow teammates (including Jakob Oftebro). In other points it’s Edh’s several flashbacks and fever dreams. The film makes less sense as it skates through.
Black Crab comes soon on Netflix.
- Release Date: 3/18/2022