Black Box Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?


Mathieu Vasseur (Pierre Ninet) always dreamed of becoming a pilot, but due to myopia, his dream never came true, so he now works as an acoustician for the Bureau of Investigation and Civil Aviation Security (BEA). Mathieu has a unique hearing that allows him to distinguish such sound nuances that ordinary people are not able to distinguish.

The bureau was entrusted with the investigation of a terrible plane crash: an Atrian 800 airliner on a Dubai-Paris flight crashed in France. Of the three hundred passengers and sixteen crew members, no one survived. Moreover, the crashed plane, owned by European Airlines, was brand new. The causes of the crash are unknown.

Head Mathieu Victor Pollock (Olivier Rabourdin) was supposed to analyze the audio recordings from the black box, but he disappeared somewhere and no one knows where he is. Then this task is entrusted to Vasser, who is not loved in the bureau for his intractability and unwillingness to compromise.

An analysis of the cockpit sound recording showed that an Islamic terrorist entered the cockpit, so the version of the attack looks most likely. It would seem that everything was cleared up, the case can be closed: Mathieu, together with his superiors, reports the results of the investigation to journalists.

However, Vasser also has to make an official report, for which he listens to the recordings again and again, and in the end the acoustician comes to the conclusion that something clearly does not fit there. And he begins to consider various other versions – to the obvious displeasure of the authorities, who can not wait to close this case. In addition, Mathieu’s misplaced zeal seriously threatens the career of his wife Noémie (Lou da Laage), who has just been offered a high position at Atrian.

But Vasser is already completely obsessed with this case, so he will go to any lengths to get to the bottom of the truth.


The director of this film, Jan Gozlan, is very fond of civil aviation, and he has long wanted to make a detective thriller on this topic. Interestingly, the same BEA, the Bureau of Investigation and Civil Aviation Security, as the director himself said in an interview, literally opened all the doors for him, so that both the director himself and the leading actor, actor Pierre Nine, had the opportunity to personally observe how BEA employees work.

Pierre Nine even found an acoustician in the bureau, whose profile more or less corresponded to the profile of Mathieu Vasseur: the actor repeatedly watched how this employee builds his work, and Nine and Gozlan found out many purely technical details about the work of investigators.

A certain part of the timing of the picture is occupied by a demonstration of how Mathieu sits at the computer and scrolls through the records of the flight recorder over and over again, nevertheless, it is very interesting to watch the picture, it is really exciting. The director knows how to create great tension even by showing seemingly completely routine work, but it must also be admitted that from the point of view of the development of the detective part of the plot with completely unexpected turns of action, everything is fine here too – this is such a detective thriller in which a lot of things are intertwined: international terrorism , corporate interests and secrets of large corporations, hackers and government agencies. And all this is twisted into a tight ball, which the main character has to unwind.

Pierre Nine did an excellent job as Mathieu Vasseur. (By the way, interestingly, in 2015, Jan Gozlan released the film “The Ideal Man”, where the main role – the writer who passed off someone else’s work as his own – was also played by Pierre Nine, and so, the writer was also called Mathieu Vasseur. Well, apparently, just the director I really like this name and surname, otherwise how to explain the desire to name two completely different characters in the same way?)

His acoustics, as it were, is a little out of this world: aloof, slightly autistic. He definitely doesn’t have the flexibility needed to build a successful career in any company, he doesn’t see the need to make any compromises, and Pierre does a great job of showing his character’s clear obsession with investigating. Mathieu clearly understands that this persistence is destroying not only his career and his family, but also he is approaching the solution of secrets, which are deadly to know. But he can’t stop now. And this actor has amazing charisma: it is interesting to watch him, even when he just sits at his workplace and listens intently to the audio recording, but the picture, of course, consists of far more than that.

By the way, a similar level of obsession was recently demonstrated by Mark Ruffalo in the 2019 film Dark Waters, and it is still based on completely real events when some small-time lawyer managed to sue the giant DuPont corporation.

Here, the script is not based on a real story, but the director, who wrote the script along with three of his regular co-writers, said that in their work they used several real plane crashes, along with the reasons that caused them.

Of the other roles, I really liked Andre Dussolier, who played Philippe Renier, the head of the bureau. However, Andre Dussolier is always nice to see in any role.

But Lou da Laage, who played the wife of Mathieu Noemi, was not particularly liked, but I read that the studio was forced to replace the actress who was originally planned for the role of Noemi just a week before the start of filming, so Lou da Laage did not have time at all for preparation.

The film became very popular in France, where it received five nominations for the 2022 Cesar film award at once, but, however, did not win a single nomination. And the film collected quite a decent box office around the world: almost $ 10 million in fees for a very chamber French film is an excellent indicator. The same “Ideal Man” collected $4.2 million worldwide.

A very good movie: an excellent detective thriller, masterfully staged and wonderfully played. I watched it myself with great pleasure and can safely recommend it for viewing.

Black box / Boîte noire review

Directed by: Jan Gozlan Cast: Pierre Ninet, Lou de Laage, André Dussolier, Sebastien Pouderou, Olivier Rabourdin, Guillaume Marquet, Mehdi Jaadi, Anne Azoulay, Aurelien Recoin, Gregory Deranger

Worldwide gross: $9.7 million
Detective thriller, France, 2021, 129 min.

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