U-571 (2000) / Action-War
MPAA Rated: PG-13 for war violence
Running Time: 116 min.
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Screenplay: Jonathan Mostow, Sam Montgomery, David Ayer
Review published April 18, 2000
There's always a lot of natural tension when a movie takes place in a submarine. There's the fact that what little air and space the men on board have is precious, and any of a hundred things could jeopardize the lives of any one of them. U-571 continues this tradition, in a similar way that Crimson Tide and The Hunt for Red October did, with white-knuckle action and edge-of-your-seat tense moments.
The story takes place back in World War II, where a German U-Boat gets all but destroyed by the Allied forces. While limping along the ocean waiting for a supply boat to help get the sub up and running again, the US Navy decided to "Trojan Horse" the U-Boat by posing as Germans to take over the sub and get the precious Enigma machine, a communication device the Germans have used with great success to break the backs of the Allied fleet. Lots of complications abound, including a relentless saboteur, powerful German battleships and a U-Boat on the edge of collapse.
The most impressive aspect of U-571 is how authentic and truly exciting Mostow (Terminator 3, Surrogates) has made what is a relatively predictable movie. Sure the plot runs along almost exactly how you'd expect, but how it gets from one plot point to another is what makes the film so successful.
Credit writer-director Mostow for making the film very authentic in look and feel, and considering his only real outing was the bland Breakdown a few years back, perhaps there is great promise for his career after all. The entire cast is filled with quality actors, and each one is perfect in his respective role. Although similar in many respects to the other submarine movies which have come out in the last 20 years, and in particular Das Boot, U-571 creates a unique feel of its own that makes it a must-see film for submarine movie fans.
Not groundbreaking by any means, but still A-caliber entertainment all the way.
©2003 Vince Leo