The new Netflix film “Black Crab” opens with a harrowing jolt. In a flashback we see a mother named Edh (Noomi Rapace) and her daughter Vanja (Stella Marcimain Klintberg) are stuck in a traffic jam; voices on the radio tell of mass casualties, violence and unrest from a growing civil war. Suddenly people start running by as gunshots ring out. The two lay down in the back seat, but within seconds soldiers shatter the side window, grab Vanja , and take her away.
That opening sets up the film’s key emotional tension as director Adam Berg whisks us back to the war-torn present. Here a shattered Edh (a soldier in the barely defined civil war) still has hopes of finding her daughter. But she’s stopped at a train station by Lieutenant Nyland (Jakob Offebro) who informs her she is needed for a special mission. Edh is taken to Colonel Raad (David Dencik) and briefed on the severity of the situation. The enemy is bearing down, but he says there is one final option – a dangerous one that could potentially put an end to the war.
We learn that for the first time in 37 years the nearby archipelago is covered in ice, from the mainland to the open sea. But the ice is too thin to support a vehicle and too thick for a boat to push through it. “But it could support a soldier of ice skates.” And there you have Operation: Black Crab. The team’s job is to transport two mysterious capsules 100 nautical miles across the ice to a research facility behind enemy lines. “If you succeed, we win the war.”
Edh knows it’s a suicide mission. But when Raad shows her a picture of Vanja taken at a refugee camp near their target, she joins Nyland and fellow soldiers Malik (Dar Salim), Granvik (Erik Enge), Karimi (Ardalan Esmaili), and Forsberg (Aliette Opheim) as they head across the treacherous ice.
I admit, ice skating soldiers sounds pretty silly. But to my surprise Berg (who co-wrote the screenplay with Pelle Rådström) keep things moving at a fast enough pace that you never really have time to dwell on it. And the story plays out like an old-school ‘who will make it to the end’ kind of action thriller which I’ve always had a soft spot for. On top of that, “Black Crab” is a visual stunner with cinematographer Jonas Alarik delivering one eye-popping image after another.
While the world-building leaves too much to the imagination and some of the characters lack much needed depth, “Black Grab” still manages to get its hooks in you. It’s yet another entertaining international grab for Netflix, and it’s another interesting vehicle for the versatile and always reliable Noomi Rapace. If sci-fi dystopian action is your thing, give it a look. “Black Crab” is now streaming on Netflix.