U-571


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Stars:  Bill Paxton, Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel

This submarine drama set in World War II has a good deal of suspense and action, yet I expected more from it. What it lacks is good character development as most characters are simply generic and the story is somewhat predictable. It’s right out of the 1950’s and it just isn’t better than anything done before, with the exception maybe of some of the explosion scenes. But the drama behind the characters is sparse.

Hitler¹s U-boats are wiping out the Allied forces at sea largely because they have encoding machines called Enigmas that the Allies haven’t been able to crack.

U.S. Naval Commander Mike Dahlgren (Bill Paxton) is ordered to take his sub into enemy territory and pretend to be a German rescue ship coming to the aid of a disabled German submarine. Along for the ride are the young Lt. Andrew Tyler (Matthew McConaughey), old salt Chief Klough (Harvey Keitel) and Naval Intelligence Officers, the German speaking Lt. Hirsh (Jake Weber) and Marine Major Coonan (David Keith). Their mission is to capture the Enigma and get out before the real German rescue ship arrives.

There’s some minor tension after Tyler discovers that Dahlgren passed on a recommendation to get him promoted. But this, in itself, really doesn’t account for much.

What’s best about the film is the inner space look of the sub with extremely close quarters and old rickety pipes and extra dim lighting as well as the scenes involving depth charges. Every submarine movie has them – those barrels they toss off destroyers into the depths below to get at a submarine. The blasting sequences are very realistic as is the damage done.

McConaughey actually fairs well in this role; Keitel’s talent is wasted; Paxton’s a minor role and I’ve always like Jake Weber (from TV’s “American Gothic”). However, I wished his character had had more of a presence and been stronger as the man he was supposed to be.

Lotta says: All in all, this is a decent drama with good action but it is nowhere near terrific, unfortunately.