Black Box AKA Boite Noir 2021 Movie Scene Pierre Niney as Mathieu Vasseur listening to the black box recording

Black Box AKA Boite Noire [2021]

Okay, I’m making a promise to you, I will learn fucking French. Just how cool does the title of this movie sound in the original French: Boite Noire? You can’t say those two words without lighting a cigarette and looking at someone at the same time seductively and indifferently. Black Box is a movie following an investigation into a shocking airplane crash. I don’t remember watching any other movie focusing on this subject and going into all the little details. This makes it refreshing and oddly captivating, especially if you’re looking for that little bit of escapism in your life.

It struck a perfect balance between technical details and “normal” human drama and thrills, making it very easy to watch. Although I have to admit that after a while, Black Box does start to meander. But, by that time you’re already so invested in the story and the characters you’ll be willing to let it go. It’s amazing how director Yann Gozlan managed to create tension in scenes where almost nothing is happening. Using arresting music and unusual camera angles, he really showed and did not tell, something that any good filmmaker will do.

At this point, I should probably tell you that I watched at least a hundred episodes of the Canadian tv show Mayday or Air Crash Investigation. This is perhaps why I liked this movie so much. However, I do think that Black Box is a movie worth watching. It’s not just about an airplane crash but it also provides us with an honest and engaging look at the modern aviation industry. They changed the names of the companies but you just know that stuff like this is going on all the time. However, don’t think that because of this we won’t get the usual thriller gimmicks because we most certainly will.

There will be twists, paranoia, personal battles, and everything else you would want from a thriller. Black Box structurally does feel like an old-school seventies thriller but with a modern setting. And considering the subject it explores, you start to wonder how did it get made in the first place. Some pretty huge balls on everyone involved here but more about that later. It will also make your next flight feel just a little bit more uneasy. I always remember that time when physicist Ernest Rutherford discovered that atoms were mostly empty space and couldn’t leave his bed the next morning as he feared he will fall through the floor.

Mathieu Vasseur dreamed of becoming a pilot but his poor eyesight prevented him from enrolling in the academy. So, he decides to become a black box analyst and soon climbs the ranks in BEA. Mathieu is going to have to use all his skills to crack his latest case. A horrific airplane crash with over 300 dead has left everyone puzzled. Every time he finds a new piece of evidence, it seems to complicate the case further…

The cast did a terrific job, especially Pierre Niney who has that “I’m really technical and precise” face. He reminded me of Edward Snowden in some scenes. Apart from him, we have the French veteran of many battles André Dussollier, and the beautiful Lou de Laâge. She killed me when she woke up and lit up half a blunt. A couple of weeks ago, a detective in Close Enemies comes home from work in the morning and lit one up. And Vincent Cassel casually smokes up while on duty in The Crimson Rivers. 

But I digress, as I want to discuss one very important thing about this movie. It doesn’t say anywhere that Black Box is a movie about the infamous Boeing 737 MAX airliner. However, the similarities are there and if you want to know more about this I suggest you start with this: Boeing 737 MAX groundings. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like Black Box I suggest you check out The Wolf’s Call AKA Le chant du loup. This is another French technical thriller following a guy who listens to things for a living. And The Fifth Estate and The International are also good choices. 

Director: Yann Gozlan

Writers: Nicolas Bouvet-Levrard, Yann Gozlan, Jérémie Guez

Cast: Pierre Niney, Lou de Laâge, André Dussollier, Olivier Rabourdin, Guillaume Marquet

Fun Facts: The name of the lead character here is the same as in Yann Gozlan’s previous movie Un Homme Ideal.


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