U-571

Calling a movie "claustrophobic" isn't usually praise, but in submarine pictures, claustrophobia is all. This tautly directed thriller doesn't take the submarine movie to new heights — or would that more properly be depths? — but you never forget that tons of water are pressing in on the leaking walls. And it's consistently suspenseful and well acted,...read more

Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
Rating:

Calling a movie "claustrophobic" isn't usually praise, but in submarine pictures, claustrophobia is all. This tautly directed thriller doesn't take the submarine movie to new heights — or would that more properly be depths? — but you never

forget that tons of water are pressing in on the leaking walls. And it's consistently suspenseful and well acted, even though you can rest assured that a remark like, "Mother of God, those Germans know how to make a submarine," is the cue for rivets to start popping. A small crew of American

sailors is conscripted for a special mission: They must board a crippled German U-boat and capture a coveted Enigma code machine. The crew is led by Lt. Andrew Tyler (Matthew McConaughey), who's smarting none-too-graciously at having been denied his own submarine command, and doesn't much like Lt.

Hirsch (Jake Weber), the German-speaking mastermind behind the daring plan. With the exception of grizzled Navy lifer Chief Klough (Harvey Keitel), Tyler's men are young and wet behind the ears, right down to Wentz (Jack Noseworthy), the fresh-faced farm boy tapped for a pivotal role in the

operation purely because he's fluent in German. The plan: Convince the U-boat's crew they're a German rescue squad, overpower them while they're off guard, grab the coding device and scuttle the ship. Naturally, the plan goes horribly awry, and Tyler must get his men (and the precious machine),

out of a series of increasingly hopeless-looking situations. Loosely inspired by several actual WWII missions and writer/director Jonathan Mostow's longtime interest in submarine warfare, this is a profoundly old-fashioned war film. That's an observation rather than a criticism; it's clearly

intended as a celebration of courage under fire, rather than a revisionist take on the much-examined Second World War. As such, it's straightforwardly entertaining and a genuine nail-biter.

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