U-571


Dive! Dive! The crew face another bit of action-packed excitement (l to r: Weber, Noseworthy, Keitel, McConaughey).
dir Jonathan Mostow
scr Jonathan Mostow, Sam Montgomery, David Ayer
with Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel, Bill Paxton, Erik Palladino, Jack Noseworthy, Jake Weber, Jon Bon Jovi, Thomas Kretschmann, Matthew Settle, David Keith, TC Carson, Thomas Guiry
Universal 00/US 3 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
A fictional compilation of several true events (which actually involved Brits, not Yanks), U-571 is a seriously exciting film about real heroism. The impeccably researched story is amazing, and the film generates genuine cinematic tension in its various action sequences, even as it sinks in a sea of cliches, from goofy dialog to an irritating big-action-movie score.

At the centre is Lt Tyler (McConaughey) a young World War II officer who desperately wants to command his own submarine and prove himself. Then his commanding officer (Paxton) leads him and his men on an urgent, top secret mission to intercept a crippled German U-boat and capture the elusive enigma decoder. But things don't exactly go as planned, and the mission turns in to a carefully plotted race against time ... and the Nazis.

Despite the awful dialog, the film does manage to layer some meaning into its story through Tyler's voyage of self-discovery and a handful of characters who rise above stereotypes. The production design is terrific (although it makes you yearn for a story as compelling as Das Boot, whose designer was tapped to recreate the German sub here). And several of the action sequences are real edge-of-the-seat stuff, very well played by the talented cast. But so much niggles that it's hard to suspend disbelief: Why weren't British actors cast in these roles? Why is there a refusal to really show the horrors of war and combat? And why doesn't the film have a shred of originality? It adds nothing to the cinematic language of submarine films ... or war films ... or even self-discovery films. It's essentially just a bit of entertaining, thrilling, heroic fluff.

[12--violence, themes] 30.May.00
US release 21.Apr.00; UK release 2.Jun.00

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READER REVIEWS

heroes are ordinary men in extrordinary times"I was expecting a second rate Das Boot but was pleasantly surprised!" --Gawain M, Filmnet, Melbourne.

"I like Matthew McConaughey and Bill Paxton, so figured I would like this movie. From the previews, I expected lots of action and was not disappointed. In fact, there is so much action I almost feel a need to watch it again just to make sure I did not miss anything - because I must have missed something. My senses felt they were overloaded with all the explosions! In the beginning, you are introduced to the crew and shown that one of Hitler's U-boats is in desperate need of a rescue, having been badly damaged by depth charges. An SOS is sent, and they are awaiting another U-boat to bring the parts to repair their ship and, most importantly, mechanics who know what they are doing, since all of theirs were killed in an explosion in the engine room. The Americans manage to decode and intercept the SOS, so decide to send one of their ships, posing as a German U-boat in order to obtain the German decoder box. The chase is on - will the Americans be able to get there before the Germans? It was a good movie - and dedicated to those men who lost their lives attempting to get the info on the U-boats! We really did enjoy how it showed courage, overcoming personal obstacles and a lot of bravery by ordinary men. And like I said, I need to see it again, just to see what I might have missed!" --Laurie T, Minneapolis.

"Had anticipated seeing a well made film. Bummer, bummer, bummer! Can't Hollywood ever understand that it's the 'little things' that make for true realism in a film. A retired Rear Admiral was supposed to be in charge of 'getting it right' and must have forgotten that enlisted men are trained in the fine art of wearing a white hat on the top of their heads. Never, never should a US Navy white hat be worn on the back of the head. We would have encountered stringent punishment and verbal assault had we been seen wearing said white hats incorrectly. Also the officer with his white uniform buttons unbuttoned would have at least seen some brig time. Possibly worse. This small oversight on the part of 'them that should have known' really spoiled the overall look of the movie. I kept hoping the next depth charge attack would push the plot back to the surface, but it never did. The best scene was the last where the sound of the rescue plane and the visual came together and finis!" --Frank D, net.

"Recently, we saw U-571 and Gladiator at the theaters. Both were excellent! It's been a long time since we have seen two really good movies back-to-back, so that was a major treat." --Becca V, Colorado.

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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