Set in Africa, France and the Arctic Sea, Wim Wenders’s dull spy story features dialogue that sounds like it’s from an op-ed page
SUBMERGENCE (Wim Wenders). 111 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (April 20). See listing. Rating: NN
If you’ve ever wondered what Wim Wenders would do with a Bond movie, here’s your answer: not a hell of a lot.
An adaptation of the novel by J.M. Ledgard, Submergence tells three stories about two characters, flashing back between the courtship of British spy James More (James McAvoy) and genius marine biologist Danielle Flinders (Alicia Vikander) at a scenic hotel near Dieppe and their separate paths afterward: she prepares for an expedition to the bottom of the sea, while he spends weeks being held captive by Islamic terrorists in Kenya.
McAvoy and Vikander are always interesting to watch, both together and apart, but Danielle’s plot is awfully dull while James’s is necessarily static for much of its running time, with characters delivering speeches about geopolitics that feel like newspaper op-eds rather than dialogue. Remember Wenders’s The End Of Violence? It’s like that, but with ISIS.
As these things go I’d rather watch it again than Werner Herzog’s Salt And Fire, but that’s still not saying much.