*CUT TO THE CHASE*
NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Spectre.
We open in an office of the salvage company AGORA. Vincent Robinson (Jude Law) has just learned that he will be let go after working for them 11 years. His HR rep tells him that the business has changed; they no longer need submarines or submarine pilots to look for salvage. It has nothing to do with his work ethic, as he is actually one of their best employees. The HR rep spoke with some of his bosses, and they were able to secure him a severance of 8640 pounds. The rep asks Robinson if he has a pension, a private savings. Robinson interrupts him, telling him he spent 11 years working for AGORA, and has spent over 30 years in subs. He lost his family due to his dedication to the job. The HR rep uncomfortably tells Robinson they want him to clean his desk out by the end of the day.
Robinson goes home to his small, sad apartment, with nothing but old family photos to greet him when he gets there.
Robinson tries to be active in looking for another job but it is clear he is competing with too many men like himself and that his heart isn’t truly in it. He is asked about his 15 years in the Navy and why he left. “I disagreed with someone,” he says.
Robinson stakes out his son’s school and watches him being picked up Chrissy, his ex-wife. Robinson looks on in longing.
Later at a bar, Robinson is with his buddy Kurston (Daniel Ryan) who has also been fired from AGORA. After ranting a bit about their lot in life, Kurston tells Robinson he knows of way to make a lot of money, and finally live the lives they deserve.
Robinson goes to a large mansion where he is met by a lawyer, Daniels (Scoot McNairy). Daniels tells Robinson that he is only to ask questions directly and not to ask Mr. Lewis (Tobias Menzies), their investor, how much he will invest and how much he wants. When Robinson sees Lewis, he immediately asks him those two questions, which makes Daniels wince.
Over breakfast, Daniels explains what they are looking for. In 1940, the German economy was at near collapse. Having signed a non-aggression pact with The Soviet Union, Hitler asked Stalin for an 80 million Reichsmark loan in Gold. Legend goes that Hitler sent a U-Boat, got the gold loaded, and it was lost at sea. However, Germany broke the pact a few weeks later and started their plans for Russian invasion. The supposed gold was forgotten about, but some say Stalin complied with the loan request and that the gold is still out there. Daniels tells Robinson that the sub is apparently in the Black Sea and that with his help they can get the gold out without any government knowing the wiser.
Robinson tells Lewis he is going to need a submarine, which will cost quite a bit of money. He will also need men, at least twelve, half British, half Russian, as the machines will be labeled in Russian and he will need them to translate.
Lewis tells Robinson that he will take 40% of the first 40 million, 20% of whatever else they find. Robinson, taken aback, agrees with the terms.
Robinson is with Daniels and one of his other men, trying to decide which men to take on the expedition. Among the men they will take include Reynolds (Michael Smiley), Gittens (Branwell Donaghey) a sailor with a bit of a gambling problem, and Fraser (Ben Mendelsohn) who Robinson admits is quite a “Psycho” but is one of the best divers he knows. They plan to get near to the U-boat, and get in diving suits to reach it.
Daniels gets off the phone in a huff. Apparently he is being forced to join the crew to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Robinson goes home and finds a young man, Tobin (Bobby Schofield) waiting for him. He says he is a friend of Kurston, who has committed suicide.
Robinson speaks to Tobin inside his apartment and learns that Kurston overdosed on his anti-depression medication, apparently to make sure the insurance money goes to his family. Kurston apparently watched over Tobin as a boy and was friendly towards him. Robinson is in shock over the death of his friend and angry he is now a man short for the trip. He looks at Tobin, and asks how old he is. Tobin tells him he is eighteen. Robinson looks at Tobin, who is obviously starving and asks if he “sleeps hard” (i.e. homeless or under severe financial stress). He then asks if Tobin has ever been to sea, seeing something in the kid.
The location changes to Sevastopol, Crimea.
A guide takes a crew out to the submarine, which is old and rusted. The guide laughs, looking at the boat. “Boats are like whores, the old ones know how to look after you best,” he says in Russian.
Robinson goes inside the sub and begins to inspect everything. At one point, he finds three orange suits and hides them away (very important later). He tells the men to begin loading the boat.
The men begin to load the boat with supplies. All the men save for Robinson don’t like the presence of Tobin so they play a joke on him, sending him on a non-existent errand of washing the sub windows and sweep the chimney. When Robinson realizes what they did, they all laugh. Robinson tells Tobin that the joke was a good thing, for that means they like him.
Robinson is told of the subs status by Peters, the oldest man on board; they have 70% battery power, one radio circuit if things go bad and a working diesel engine though it has a leak that the engineer is having trouble finding. Peters notes that due to this, that if things go south, there is no escape. Daniels balks and asks if they could use the diving suits to escape. Fraser smirks and says they could go outside for 80 feet but the suits aren’t designed to get to the surface. If they sink, they die.
Robinson is alerted by Peters that the Russians don’t like Tobin, who call him “virgin” due to his youth and his lack of sea experience. Robinson says Tobin stays and to call a meeting of the entire crew so they know what they are working for.
Robinson tells the crew (with one of the Russians translating for the other half of the crew) that they are looking for a lost U-boat filled with gold. Their benefactor gets a large chunk of the gold they find while the rest is theirs. Robinson makes it clear; every man will get an EQUAL share of the gold, which surprises them all. As Robinson directs them to make final diving preparations, Daniels pulls him aside and asks why he just didn’t pay them a small percentage. Robinson says they all get an equal share since every man is risking everything for this mission. “What happens when one starts to think his share gets bigger with less people on board?” Daniels asks. Robinson nearly hits Daniels for even suggesting that his men would resort to murder in the name of greed.
Robinson is told by one of the Russians that the engineer, Zaytsev (Sergey Puskepalis) refuses to have help from Tobin. Robinson tells the man to tell Zaytsev that he better work with Tobin “or get the fuck off my boat.”
Tobin is instructed on how to help Zaytsev. He is overwhelmed, but is willing to do what he needs to do.
During a dinner break, cracks are beginning to form between the British and Russian crews. Fraser bemoans that the Russians get an equal share, thinking the Russians are laughing at them. He then insults the cook, spilling his stew on the table.
Robinson notices Tobin looking at something on his phone and asks to look at it. Robinson sees it is a picture of a baby. Robinson realizes Tobin is about to become a father and is doing this job to provide for his kid. Robinson tells Tobin not to worry; “Your boy won’t want for nothing,” he says. Tobin is surprised that Robinson knows it is a boy, and warms up to the idea. Robinson then chuckles and says he told the men Tobin wasn’t a virgin. Tobin begins to protest the label when Robinson tells him to be quiet. Robinson and the men shut the boat down. Robinson goes to the sonar man, Baba, who says a Russian destroyer is nearby. The men wait in silence until it passes. Robinson directs the boat to be started up at a slower speed for an hour then to proceed on as normal from that point on.
Tobin and Reynolds are in the sleeping quarters talking about the mission. Reynolds says he and the other guys are like penguins; graceful, alive in the water, useless on dry land. Tobin asks what Reynolds will do with his share. Reynolds says he will pay off debts and give a bit to his family. Suddenly, the Russian crew come in and throws Tobin off the bunk he was on saying he was on the “Russian side.” Fraser sees all this and notes they are doing this to rile them up, and perhaps break Tobin in the process. Fraser stews with rage.
Robinson is told they found the diesel leak and can begin other tasks. Robinson agrees but notes the diesel engine should be fixed first. Robinson is told that British crew is objecting, believing the Russians are getting too much of the gold. Robinson once again must make it clear that every man gets an equal share.
Robinson hears a fight in the dining room between Gittens and a few of the men. He learns that Gittens has a winning lottery ticket worth 30,000 pounds and wants to leave. Robinson asks how he knows he won, and realizes he used the radio. He takes an ax and destroys the radio, and then burns Gittens ticket in front of him. He tells Gittens he is a fool to risk all of them for 30,000 pounds when they are looking for millions. He then, once again, makes his position clear; EVERY MAN GETS AN EQUAL SHARE.
Daniels watches the problems brewing, concerned.
Fraser sits in the sleeping quarters, toying with his knife. He then heads to the engine room, looking to start something.
Tobin is working with Zaytsev is the engine room when he accidentally turns a knob wrong, burning Zaytsev with fluids. Zaytsev begins to rush him, only to be held back by the Russian translator. Fraser comes in and picks a fight, and kills the translator with the knife. Gittens comes in and is shocked, asking Fraser what he did. In the confusion, diesel fuel spills out of a bucket and sparks on the engine, causing an explosion, killing Gittens, and causing the sub to dive. The shock jostles everyone and knocks Robinson out cold.
Robinson dreams of his family in happier times on the beach. We then see how he became distant with his wife, who began to resent all the time he spent at work, and begun to argue with him in front of their son. They eventually divorced, and Robinson argued that she was more concerned with financial security than a husband actually being there. So it appears part of why Robinson is doing the expedition is for his family.
Robinson wakes up in the sleeping quarters with a nasty gash on his head. He turns to his side and vomits. Looking up, he notices the body of one of the dead men. He soon sees the other. As for the sub, they are at the bottom of the ocean.
Robinson learns that the sub is basically shot and they have about 36 hours of power. With Fraser causing the death of two people, the Russians have taken to the other side of the sub. The British crew has the food, but the Russians have the water and soon, one side will overpower the other.
“Are we going to die?” Tobin asks, scared. “No,” Robinson replies.
Robinson goes down the hall and tries to say a Russian phrase. He sees Morozov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) and repeats it. Morozov then asks what he is trying to say and Robinson realizes he can speak English; no one had ever asked him if he could. Robinson says they need to work together to get the boat working again and what Fraser has done will not be forgotten. However, Robinson needs Baba to work sonar or they can’t get out of their mess. Robinson is able to convince the Russians back into a truce, at least temporarily.
Robinson deduces that if they can get to the U-boat, they can take the drive shaft it has and retrofit it to their submarine and get it working again. Since the Black Sea has no oxygen decay at their depth, the part should be intact.
Robinson has Fraser and Peters get rid of the bodies, emptying them out the torpedo tubes.
By banging on the ship’s hull with a large metal piece, Baba is able improvise sonar to figure out where they are.
Fraser is threatened by Zaytsev, saying that when they get out of their mess he is going to “eat his liver.” Fraser seems to understand that he is being threatened and says they’ll deal with that when the time is right.
Robinson and Morozov realize that they could either be on the wrong canyon, or within 100 meters of the lost U-boat. Robinson decides to take a look either way, because if they don’t they are dead anyway. He needs divers though. He has Fraser, but needs at least three. Fraser asks Peters despite his age, and when pressed to find a third man, Tobin volunteers since he has been scuba diving before. Tobin suits up and is told by Robinson to pay attention to Fraser because he knows what he is doing.
Robinson tells Fraser to do his job right because they only have one shot.
Fraser, Peters, and Tobin get out into the sea and jump off the sub. Tools they need are shot out of the torpedo tubes. Peters sets up a light on the sub. As Fraser and Tobin begin to walk in the direction of where the sub might be, Tobin spots one of the dead bodies and nearly falls off a cliff, only saved by the oxygen line. Fraser pulls him back up in the nick of time.
Peters is near the sub, creating a cart to carry the drive shaft.
They continue to journey to the location only for the ocean bottom to rise up. Fraser thinks they are in the wrong canyon and are in effect doomed. Robinson is crushed. Tobin, however, notices something and takes a closer look. He begins to wipe his hand across the sand and finds…a Nazi swastika. The boat had been covered in sand. The crew cheer, having hope again.
Fraser, Peters and Tobin get inside the sunken sub which has not been flooded though they can’t take their suits off as the air in the sub has become chlorine gas. They find several skeletons, some dead by obvious suicide, others chained up. When Tobin asks if this was a prison sub, Peters is horrified to explain that apparently cannibalism took place during the very end of these men’s lives.
Peters and Tobin find the drive shaft and begin to take it out. Fraser looks ahead and finds a stack of the gold they have been looking for and laughs in amazement.
The three load the drive shaft and ask for the pulley system to start going. However, the mud is thick and the cart won’t move far. The three begin to push at it to make it move, albeit slowly. Morozov tells Robinson that the winch is pulling at 4 tons power. Robinson realizes that they are trying to move the gold too.
Peters realizes that they are getting close to a cliff that will tip everything, but Fraser is unwilling to let the gold go. Daniels panics, telling them to leave the gold, but Robinson tells Fraser it is his call if he can get the cart away from the cliff. Fraser and Peters are using metal rails to make the car move and try to turn it, though they lose a few bars of gold in the process. Peters get on the side of the cliff to try and turn it, but in the process falls off the cliff and his air line is cut. He falls to the bottom of the ocean to his death. Fraser is aghast at this, as he has never lost a man during a dive.
Tobin and Fraser return to the sub. The crew is down to 9 men, which is the bare minimum needed to run the sub. Daniels is unwilling because he has no experience and asks to speak to Robinson privately.
Daniels tells Robinson the truth; Lewis was just an actor. There was no rich benefactor. His old company, AGORA funded this expedition. They couldn’t get to the gold and fired Robinson on purpose to give him the motivation to go after it. AGORA has already made a deal with Georgian government for half the gold. When the crew surfaced, they were to get NOTHING.
Robinson can’t believe it because Kurston told him about Lewis in the first place. Daniels says AGORA paid Kurston 30000 pounds to tell Robinson about the job. It is then that Robinson realizes that his friend committed suicide out of guilt. Robinson is completely enraged at Daniels because people have died for this expedition and Robinson brought Tobin with them, and Tobin is just an innocent kid about to be a father himself. Daniels apologizes but Robinson just gives him his belt to seal the door and tells Daniels God help him if he can break through that.
The crew wants to kills Daniels for his betrayal but Robinson tries to calm them down. However, they know if they surface, AGORA or the navy will be waiting for them, waiting to take the gold and make everything they have been through be in vain. Robinson proposes they go around some coves and land in Turkey where they can dock safely. Robinson tells them they can give up, and be walked over just like the rich assholes (AGORA and Daniels who used them all) expect them to be, or they can risk a little more for the lives they actually deserve.
“I’m not going home poor, not after this,” Robinson says.
The crew brings in the gold via the torpedo tubes and retrofits the drive shaft to work on their sub. Robinson counts up the gold and estimates they have more than 182 million and this time it will be all theirs to split.
Robinson tells Daniels to get out of the room he barricaded himself in and makes it clear he is going to help. Daniels tries to reason with Fraser, telling him Robinson is losing it. Fraser won’t listen so Daniels tries to play the “I have kids” card but Fraser continues to shut him out.
The crew starts up the boat and pull themselves off the sea floor. With Reynolds and Tobin steering the boat, they level out and hold steady. With everyone at their posts, they begin to travel. However, Baba in doing his sonar job, hears something up ahead, and orders a full stop. They stop shy of rocks. Morovoz and Robinson realize they have fallen off course and are in the middle of a narrow cove. To backtrack will cost them more time, something Robinson will not risk. He tells the men they’ll go through the cove. The men protest, but Robinson counters they are just an hour or so from being set up for life so isn’t a little more risk worth it? The men continue, including Daniels protest. Tobin tells Robinson he just wants to live now.
“Go back to your fucking posts,” Robinson snarls. The men eventually comply and proceed through the cove.
Daniels begins to whisper to Fraser to kill one of the men. Another man short and they will have no choice to surface the boat. Fraser begins to lose it.
The boat hits the cove wall, and begins to scrape against it. Robinson says they just have to get through thirty meters of it and they will be fine.
Daniels continues to whisper to Fraser about how Robinson has lost it.
Fraser sabotages an instrument and motions to Zaytsev to take a look. With his back turned, Fraser pulls a wrench off a table and beats his skull in. Daniels and Fraser go to Robinson and tell that Zaytsev hit his head and died but they all notice the blood on Fraser’s face and call bullshit on Daniel’s story. Finally seeing Daniels for the man he truly is, Robinson calls him stupid and says “you fucking killed him Daniels.”
Meanwhile, one of the other Russians tries to investigate what went wrong and tries to fix it. He accidentally causes an explosion that kills him and blows a hole in the sub, causing it to dive to the bottom. The crew is jostled around wondering where the bottom of the ocean is. The sub finally drops to 350 meters which is crush depth. Due to the explosion, the sub is now taking on water.
Robinson, Fraser, Tobin and some of the other men are trying to put pressure on the leak in the engine room when a gasket pops knocking Tobin out cold. As he lies in the water, Robinson sees him and can’t leave him to die. He gets Morozov to help drag him out of the room, where he begins to do CPR.
More water rushes into the engine room so Daniels leaves the room, and begins to shut the door, trapping Reynolds, Fraser, and Baba, the remaining crew in the room to drown. Knowingly cosigning them to death, Daniels locks the door. Fraser drowns, while Reynolds and Baba try to hold out as long as possible. The lights shatter, causing a mini explosion which kills Baba. Reynolds is last seen underwater with no way out, and will soon drown.
Daniels shuts two other compartments but on the second one gets his belt stuck in the door, trapping him. Morozov sees him alone and realizes he left the others to die. Daniels says he had no choice, and asks for a knife to cut the belt free. Morozov leaves him to die just as he let the others die. Daniels calls out in vain as the water begins to fill the room he is in.
Back in the torpedo room, Robinson is able to revive Tobin. Tobin coughs out water and breathes deep.
“Are we still down here?” Tobin asks. “Aye,” Robinson says. “I’m sorry.”
The room Daniel is in fills with water and he drowns.
Morozov returns to the torpedo room alone, the crew reduced to three. Morozov states that the sub is lost and all the crew are dead. Robinson pulls out three suits he found before they left port and explains they are escape suits. Morozov is understandably enraged he did not tell them about the suits but Robinson counters there wasn’t enough for everyone and he didn’t want the crew to give up hope. Morozov nearly attacks Robinson for his selfishness, and that all of Morozov’s crew along with most of Robinson’s died but he eventually pulls himself together having no choice.
Tobin and Morozov put on the suits. Tobin asks how much one gold bar is worth. Robinson says a half a million. Tobin asks if they can at least take one with them in the suits, but Robinson says they can’t because it would weigh the suit down too much.
Robinson briefly embraces Tobin. “You be there for your boy, that’s all that matters,” he says.
Robinson tells them he will load them into the torpedoes and send them off before escaping via an “emergency lever”. Morozov gives him a weird look before nodding. Tobin and Morozov get into the tubes and Robinson sends them out to escape to the surface.
Robinson stares at the gold he sacrificed everything for.
Tobin and Morozov make it to the surface. Tobin is waiting for Robinson to show up but Morozov reveals there was no way for Robinson to escape; he sacrificed himself so they could live. Tobin breaks down at the realization.
Robinson smokes a cigarette, sitting on the gold, waiting for the water to break through and kill him. He thinks of his family in happier times, waiting for the end.
Back on the surface, Tobin and Morozov see the third suit hit the surface. Tobin thinks it is Robinson but is shocked to see the gold and a picture of Robinson’s family inside. Apparently, not wanting everyone to have died for nothing (and to make sure Tobin can provide for his new family), Robinson used his suit to send the gold up for the two survivors before the ship was fully submerged.
*CUT TO THE CHASE*
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Robinson (Jude Law) and his crew had been set up from the beginning. Daniels (Scoot McNairy) reveals that Robinson's previous employer AGORA actually funded the expedition and has already negotiated a settlement for the gold with the Georgian government. When the sub was going to surface, the crew was to get nothing. Robinsion, enraged that people have died over this treachery, decides to evade capture to split the gold with his men.
Daniels however, pressures Fraser (Ben Mendelsohn) into killing another man to force the sub to the surface, but this sabotage eventually causes an explosion that makes the sub to start taking on water. Daniels traps crew members Fraser, Baba, and Reynolds (Michael Smiley) to drown. However, in a karmic fashion, Daniels gets his belt caught on a door and when Morozov (Grigoriy Dobrygin) sees Daniels alone and knows he left the others to die, leaves him to drown too.
With only Robinson, Tobin (Bobby Schofield), and Morozov alive, Robinson gives them escape suits to reach the surface, understanding that the gold will have to stay. However, Robinson helps them escape this knowing he cannot escape himself. At the last second, before he is killed when the sub is fully engulfed in water, Robinson sends up the gold in his suit so the mission won't be in vain and that so Tobin, about to be a father himself, can provide for his family.