Projections - Movie Reviews

U-571 U-571

From a wedding dance floor listening to Rodgers & Hart music the crew of the S-33 vintage U.S. WWI submarine is suddenly thrust into a secret WWII mission in the North Atlantic.  Director Jonathan Mostow spends little time developing characters; he simply drops the S-33 crew and the audience into a tension filled two hours that hold us glued to the screen.

It would be easy to compare this to Das Boot, the powerful Wolfgang Petersen 1981 U-boat thriller.  But U-571 doesn't present the irony of Das Boot, rather it's a hero's story of ordinary seamen who are sent on a near impossible mission which could turn the tide of the war.

Lt. Commander Mike Dahlgren (Bill Paxton) skippers the S-33 and his unhappy executive officer, Lt. Andrew Tyler (Matthew McConaughey) who has been passed over for promotion based on Dahlgren's recommendation, must carry a young crew into the shipping lanes which have been dominated by U-boats that have crippled the shipment of war materials to England.

Their specific mission is to capture an "Enigma Machine" which holds the process and code books for the German navy.  It must be captured in secret without German knowledge if the allies are to make full use of the codes.  The game plan is to board a crippled U-boat, take the "Enigma Machine", sink the German vessel and bring the codes back to the U.S.  To facilitate the sneak attack, the old S-33 is retrofitted to look like a German U-boat.

When the plan takes a wrong twist the young crew finds itself lead by Tyler and Harvey Keitel's Chief Klough in the captured U-boat.  The tension, skill and dedication of the crew carry the remainder of the film as they maneuver the crippled German submarine while it is attacked by other U-boats and German destroyers.

Special effects along with a sound system that wraps around,  place us in the crippled sub at 200 meters below the surface where it is difficult to remain passive and calm as the young heroes fight for their lives and the secret "Enigma Machine."

Action films don't come much better than U-571.


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