Monday, March 27

‘Black crab’: Netflix uses a futuristic war on ice to talk about very close conflicts

Netflix knows well that the great asset of its productions is often in its atmosphere. They cannot compete with the technical finish of a blockbuster for the big screen, but they have become experts in maximizing the ingredients that they know have potential. It may be the charisma and good work of a cast worthy of bigger movies, such as ‘Red Alert’ or ‘The Adam Project’.

But it can also be the atmosphere: limited, but suggestive scenarios or plot points that alone tell stories are also an important asset to make a movie memorable, and “Black Crab” -which Netflix premieres this Friday- knows how to exploit it. It does so with an apocalyptic environment but without elements of science fiction, in an area of ​​the Nordic countries that is perfectly possible today except because it is plagued by a war.

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Not many details are given about that war, if not practically none, beyond the fact that it has been going on for years and the dead number many thousands. The opposing sides are not defined, because we focus, as if in a commando war movie, on a very specific mission: One of the sides is on the verge of defeat, but has one last hope. A secret weapon that must be transported taking advantage of the fact that what is usually a sea is now frozen and can be crossed with skates.

A suicide mission in which she will participate, without knowing exactly what she is transporting, a soldier (Noomi Rapace) who has lost her daughter at the beginning of the conflict. Hoping to find her again, she accepts the mission together with a group of companions of whom she hardly knows anything and among whom there could be a traitor.

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wars below zero

‘Black Crab’ is a Swedish production that knows how to squeeze the ghostly scenarios between which practically all the action takes place. The soldiers travel at night and behind the line of fire, with which newcomer Adam Berg (who had previously produced the highly unclassifiable series for Prime ‘Stories from the loop’) takes the opportunity to launch images brimming with mystery and loneliness.

In fact, Berg treats the viewer to wonderful wide shots of the overwhelming icy plains that were once the surface of an ocean, thereby enhancing the abstraction of the many sequences of tension and action. Brittle ice, chases, gunfights, ambushes: the journey is full of danger and Berg makes good use of the aesthetic potential of the dangerous icy area where ‘Black Crab’ takes place.

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It is also interesting in ‘Black Crab’, especially in its opening bars, how terrible images of those depersonalized wars reverberate, between cities almost in ruins due to increasingly powerful weapons. The mentions of refugees, the desperate interventions of civilians or the genocidal role of the military are noted between the lines in a film that it does well not to mean sides, but to make it clear who always has the losing side.

Perhaps the big problem with ‘Black crab’ is a final section that partially detracts from the superb work of setting and tension that it develops during its beginning, and where it destroys part of the personality that it has given to its protagonists. But it’s a lesser evil: Rapace’s excellent work and suffocating portrayal of a conflict between the abstract and the recognizable make ‘Black Crab’ one of Netflix’s best post-apocalyptic movies since ‘Blind’.

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