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(PG-13, 2000) ... Average: 3.17
(Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bon Jovi, Bill Paxton, David
Keith, Harvey Keitel)
Very good action flick. I will admit that I was not interested in seeing this, but my husband bought the tickets
without my knowledge and I really liked it. Edge of my seat and best of all, it wasn't too long - exactly
U-571 is a
World War II submarine thriller about a group of young men on a mission
that went terribly wrong faced with overcoming extraordinary odds.
The U.S. crew of the submarine S-33 are deployed on a top secret mission
to intercept a disabled German U-boat - the U-571 - steal the ship's
encryption system and then sink the German submarine as if they were never
there. It doesn't quite work out as planned, and that is all I will
say so as to not give away the story. The movie is extremely
suspenseful, and keeps you glued to the edge of your seat for its entire
Knocking this movie down one minor notch was the typical flaws of just
about every action flick - there were times when the likelihood of some of
the things that happened here were a bit of a stretch. You know the
routine: Germans shoot a dozen times, miss every time. We shoot
once, hit dead-on. I also question how realistic the patching of
their leaks was. There was one scene in particular when the entire
sub seemed to breaking apart one minute, springing leaks in pipes all
over, and then the next minute everything was fine. Anyone who has
fixed a water leak knows it just isn't that easy, and I'm guessing it
doesn't become any easier when you are in a WWII submarine 200 meters
below the surface of the ocean.
All in all, however, the action and suspense of their situation made those
things fairly easy to overlook. U-571 isn't the greatest of ever by
any stretch, but it's an enjoyable movie.
(Side note, I had totally forgotten that Jon Bon Jovi was in this
movie until I went to write this review. I don't even remember which
one he was, which is probably a tribute. If I didn't even notice
that it was him, clearly he did a good job of acting.)
The cracking of the enigma code played an integral part of the allied
war effort of World War II. The Germans had developed and nearly
perfected a code machine capable of sending accurate messages swiftly
without fear of interception due to it’s complexities. It was
important for the allies to not only get their hands on an enigma code
machine but to decipher its ever-changing code.
U-571 builds its premise around this exciting and disturbing event but the
film, itself, is anything but exciting. It merely attempts to ride
on the coattails of other submarine films such as The Hunt For Red October
and Das Boot, including all of the suspense devices that it can squeeze
into its 2 hours.
Matthew McConaughey plays Lt. Tyler, an ambitious young marine officer
wanting his own naval commission. ‘Not-so-fast’ says his Captain
(portrayed woodenly by Bill Paxton). Apparently Tyler would not be
capable of making the tough decisions, risking lives for the mission or
the greater cause. Disappointed, Tyler wonders what his next mission
will be, succumbed to the thought that he will forever be a submarine’s
second in command.
But this is WWII and his next mission is revealed quickly – to disguise
their US submarine as a German submarine, find another German submarine
stranded somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, pretend to be Germans,
board the real German submarine, steal their enigma machine and get out of
sight before the real Germans arrive. But the catch is to ensure
that the Germans remain completely unaware that the enigma machine is
gone. Otherwise, the Germans will abandon its use.
Through a course of events including submarines catching on fire, going
far beneath its depth capabilities, and continuous carpet bombings, Tyler
is forcibly given his own command. Will he have what it takes to be
a submarine captain? Will he be able to risk lives for the sake of
the greater cause?
More bombs, more fires, more plummeting submarines and – yes – an
opportunity to send a man to his death are soon to follow without
surprise. As an audience, we are asked to feel for the officers who
are risking life and limb for truth, justice, and the American way.
It is an almost impossible feat with U-571 as the characters are simply
used as plot devices for the film. If the producers wanted to reach
the success of Red October or Das Boot, they should have realized that it
is the boat that is the plot device and it is the characters that provide
the story – not the other way around.
The film fails as it is simply bland and unoriginal in its character
development, or lack thereof, and its action sequences. But more
importantly, and more shamelessly, is that it rewrites history without
embarrassment or concern. Although it mentions in its end credits
that this was a work of fiction, it still gives the impression that these
events at least bordered on accuracy.
The enigma machine did exist and was captured by the British forces.
The British were also able to board a submarine and steal an enigma code
book. And the British were eventually able to crack the enigma code.
Certainly, these events could be made into an exciting film, not just one
which is merely watchable.