on June 20, 2003
This movie attempts to present itself as an historically based submarine adventure. Unfortunately, it is grossly inaccurate historically, to the point of being insulting;especially to the Brits. They seized an enigma device before we even entered the war. The submarine warfare is so over the top it's absurd. If you want to see crazy stunts and over the top action I'd recommend a good Bond film. If you want to see a great WW2 submarine flick, see Das Boot. Forget about this turkey.
on February 27, 2003
In "U-571", an untested USN officer named Tyler (Mcaunaghey) leads the green crew of an obsolete USN submarine on a daring, top-sectret mission of modern piracy against a crippled Nazi U-Boat. It's 1942, dark days for the allies everywhere, and especially in the battle of the north Atlantic. Freighters steal across the Atlantic in convoys, desperate to get their needed cargo to Europe to shore up the western front against Germany. German sailors in U-boats hunt the convoys down in organized wolfpacks. In a desperate battle for both sides, the Germans lost about 30,000 men, but came close to cutting the Atlantic off. In the beginning of the flick, allied intelligence picks up the U-571's distress call, the having barely survived a crushing depth charge attack. Quickly realizing they've got a chance to grab the sub and its sensitive equipment intact, Washington hits upon a plan of modern-day piracy. They commandeer a tired "S-Boat" - an American submarine already obsolete before WWII - to rendezvous with U-571 under the disguise of rescuing German sub. The S-boat's inadequacies are painful, but her small size makes her a convincing stand-in for U-571's sister ship. Washington cares less about U-571 than its "Enigma" - an early generation of calculator used by the Kriegsmarine to decode/encode messages to and from its warships. By capturing an Enigma, the allies hope to break the German codes and learn to navigate its ships around the Nazi subs which, stealth aside, are slow and very vulnerable. Fooling the Germans at first, the initial operation comes off flawlessly - and our boys capture both Nazi-sub and enigma in one of those otherwise bloodless operations we've seen in countless war movies. But that's only a set-up for when the plan goes bad: U-571's actual sister-sub appears, torpedoes and all, and U-571 becomes the kind of movie we haven't seen that much of. With their own sub sent to the bottom, Tyler and the rest of his crew must save U-571, learn the secret of driving the foreign sub and sail her across the Atlantic. Tyler is a whiz at subs, but he's unproven. Instead, he relies on Chief Klough (Harvey Keitel) to explain what "Sub School" could not. After narrowly defeating U-571's sister-sub, Tyler and his crew settle on the slightly less impossible of two plans - sail for England, getting as close as possible without being sighted...by anybody. (Should the Germans learn of U-571's capture, they will certainly modify both Enigmas and their codes, and Tyler's efforts will have been in vain.) Discovery is less likely in an eastward course, even though it means braving waters swimming with U-boats. By the end of the flick, Tyler will have barely survived a game of "cat and mouse" with a German destroyer, and a near Mutiny with his own crew.
This flick took a lot of lumps for realism stretches, though most deserve qualification. The film entirely omits any mention of England's recovery of an Enigma machine in 1941, years before we Yanks. Simply ignoring history is bad, but it doesn't make the story as implausible as "U-571"'s many British critics would insist. Given how tight-lipped the British were on any subject connected to their ability to read German codes, it's entirely possible that too few American planners in '42 would have known enough about England's possession of Enigma to declare Tyler's mission unnecessary (England declined to declassify their work on Enigma after the war's end, keeping the wraps on until the early 1970's). A cursory mention of England's seizure of Enigma does not otherwise correct the historical flaws of the film (the story is still inexplicably bereft of any British characters, and it would have taken little to actually add some to the script). On the flip side, a painfully accurate story obviates a more stinging barb on the Brits - one that both acknowledges that they got Enigma first, but also that they kept their exploits silent even knowing that their allies would risk their own men on near suicidal missions to nab what the British already had. (Can you imagine the howls had "U-571" ended with our heroes turning over their hard-won prize to the RN...only for it to join hordes of similar machines silently amassed by the allies, blind, deaf and dumb to the sacrifices of Tyler's men?) The subject of England's stinginess with anything relating to German cryptography, at the cost of American lives, is discussed overtly in Robert Harris's great novel "Enigma", a novel which Has not been criticized for historical inaccuracy. Further, while critics here think this is another attempt at Hollywood revisionism, it's easy to point out that Hollywood holds no monopoly in that area, as anybody who's ever seen "Breaking the Sound Barrier" can attest - in which we learn that the first man to fly faster than sound was actually a British Pilot flying a DeHavilland fighter. While "Breaking" boldly claimed for England credit for the first manned supersonic flight, 'U-571' at least had the decency to set its story a year after the Brits Enigma recovery.
Taking an unrealistic premise - Tyler and his crew assimilating the incredibly complicated and undeniably foreign ship - "U-571" works in a very realistic way, with the script showing how quick thinking and not a small amount of luck saved the day, and how narrowly Tyler and crew beat the odds. The cinematography goes even further, letting us know that, contrary to what we've seen in "Run Silent, Run Deep" and "Destination Tokyo", Submarines were cramped and dark, leaked water, were very slow, groaned under the pressure of the water above and, when surfaced, dipped and climbed on waves like a tin can. This is probably the only flick since "Das Boot" to convey just how impossible a job it was to fight in subs in WWII. It's no "Das Boot", but "U-571" now makes it impossible to watch any of those quaint and propaganda-laden movies made during the war.
on January 18, 2003
This is a wonderful movie which highlights the leadership growth of a young naval officer suddenly thrust into command under incredibly challenging circumstances. Originally evaluated by his captain as "not ready" for command, Lt. Tyler is faced with a striking array of challenges.
This is a story, primarily, of leadership at sea. We often forget that our fighting men are often asked to do the nearly impossible, as portrayed in this movie. I have seen just about every submarine movie around, and in my opinion this one compares favorably with "The Enemy Below," "Das Boot," "Run Silent Run Deep" and other greats. It is far more watchable than "Das Boot"--U-571 does not have any of the dull, draggy interludes that punctuate "Das Boot" (and most other European movies). The storyline is brisk, the acting is crisp and authentic, and the story grabs you from the very first moments. This is a great movie.
This movie has wonderful sound effects. The visuals are utterly real--the viewer feels transported into an old WW2 vintage submarine, and from this realizes an appreciation for the heroism of the men who fought a war inside these steel tin cans.
Some of our European friends are bitter because this story is about the US Navy mounting a mission to capture a German enigma machine. While it is true that the Brits did more of this than did America (after all, they were in the war longer, and the US Navy had to fight two wars at once) it is also true that the US Navy did capture an enigma machine during the war, through heroism and competence. There is nothing amiss here by virtue of the movie being about Americans.
Put aside your prejudices and enjoy this movie! It is a story of leadership and bravery, not just a "shoot-em-up." Watching Lt. Tyler mature into a superb submarine skipper and gain the respect of his crew is really what this story is about--and a great story it is.
on January 5, 2003
I must be some kind of submarine film addict, because I just can't resist films on this subject. "U-571" is yet another great war film that delivers non-stop suspense and tells a good tale. "U-571" is almost an American version of "Das Boot", with some of the same feel of claustrophobia and intensity that the German U-Boot film created.
The story is based on the capture of the Enigma Coder, a typewriter-like device that, with a key book, was nearly uncrackable. It took a monster computer and master mathematicians to break this code, and the fact this code had been compromised was secret until 1974. (as an aside, today with the computer power available could have broken the Enigma in a matter of seconds.) But the story of "U-571" really is a compilation of several missions to capture the Enigma coder, and the subject is actually what kind of men have the bravery needed to go on such deadly missions, in metal tubes that face death every time they plunge beneath the ocean.
Screenwriter/Director Jonathan Mostow created a film that really focuses on the bravery of ordinary men doing extraordinary deeds. The cast was well-chosen to avoid a mega-star that would overwhelm the tale; Matthew McConaughey as the lead does a terrific job, but he pitches his acting down to a level to let the rest of the cast shine as well.
The special effects are nothing short of spectacular. The set builders created such realism that it was hard to believe that the film was not set in an actual running submarine.
Though the story is not "historically" accurate to the events of the capture of the Engima, the film isn't really about the Enigma mission--it's more about the people who undertook such a heroic and difficult task. This is a very well-written, well-directed film that, if you love suspense or war films, will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time.
The sound is excellent on this DVD--especially the surround sound which is very rich, providing the environmental envelope of rainfall and depth charge explosions all around. The extras are well worth watching, especially the section on building the sets, which was amazing.
on January 2, 2003
This film is so suspenseful, you could almost throw your nail clippers away and just watch U-571! Granted, our friends in Great Britain are rightly peeved to see what is labeled as based on a true story to have the glaring error that it was the USA rather than Britain who actually performed the capture of the Enigma machine.
However, with that kept in mind, Jonathan Mostow does a great job of creating suspense with screenplay and direction. His last film "Breakdown" was a tight suspense flick with Kurt Russell trying to find his kidnapped wife. I saw this after seeing "K-19: The Widowmaker" and enjoyed this one much more.
Johnny Johnson who did the sound for "A Knight's Tale" has created a great wall of sound effect that has buzzers and blasts going off, creating a great sonic setting that enhances the picture.
Matthew McConaughey as Lt. Andrew Tyler does a good job of showing the somewhat green commander coming into his own and able to make life & death decisions when necessary. Bill Paxton's voice acted as a sedative for me because he was SO calm. Harvey Keitel as Chief Klough does an excellent job. One scene where he counsels Tyler that a captain must show his crew that he ALWAYS knows, even when he doesn't, to ensure confidence and cooperation is particularly effective. Jon Bon Jovi as Lt. Pete Emmett does a good job. I also liked the skitterish Trigger played by Tom Guiry who eventually drowns while trying to repair the torpedo, the crew's only chance of survival. After appearances in Black Hawk Down & Tigerland, he's becoming a war flick fixture.
So while the British are understandably cool to the flick, it does wind the mechanism of suspense to the breaking point. The special effects of explosions are also excellent. This is a great evening's entertainment. Enjoy!
on December 26, 2002
There is, of course, only so much you can do with a submarine movie -- depth charges, leaky pipes, bolts popping, Taking Her Down Deeper Than She Was Ever Meant To Go, etc. But this movie does them all very well. You'll be on the edge of your seat even though you realize that you're being manipulated and that the plot twists are preposterous. Probably the cleverest part of the movie is the plot device of focusing on the genuinely likeable young lieutenant who isn't quite ready to be a captain and is forced by circumstances to show that he has what it takes. And the special effects are outstanding -- the plot itself is more than a little over-the-top, particularly toward the end, but the effects are entirely believable. The acting is likewise uniformly excellent. I still put this a notch or two below Das Boot. Das Boot is a truly great submarine movie (more than that -- a truly great movie, period), while U-571 is a truly excellent "Hollywood" submarine movie (less believable, more bombastic, more attuned to American tastes). Watch them both on the same day and you'll be a nervous wreck.
on October 29, 2002
In "U-571", the green crew of an obsolete USN submarine is plucked, while in bad need of R&R, for a highly secret mission that amounts to wartime piracy. It's 1942, dark days for the allies everywhere, and especially in the battle of the north Atlantic. Detecting a distress call from the crippled German submarine U-571, damaged during an attack that sent scores of allied ships to the bottom, Washington commandeers a tired "S-Boat" - a class of American submarine already obsolete by the outset of war - and orders its crew to seize the U-boat, her crew and especially the "Enigma". Enigma refers to a actual machine used by the Kriegsmarine to decode and encode messages to and from its warships. By capturing one of the machines, the allies hope to break the German codes and learn to navigate its ships around the Nazi subs which, stealth aside, are slow and very vulnerable. Lt. Commander Dahlgren's (an unusually serious Bill Paxton) obsolete sub is needed because newer subs are conspicuously larger than the smaller U-boats. (the plan requires the S-boat to impersonate a "friendly" U-boat responding to U-571's SOS). Ofcourse, nothing goes as planned, painfully so when it looks like the plan was beginning to work. Instead, after U-571 has been seized and its Enigma recovered, the U-571's actual sister-sub appears and sinks Dahlgren's boat, crew and all. Now, the survivors, under command of Lt. Andrew Tyler (Matthew McConaughey, also looking very severe, with a crewcut that shaves years off his life) must save U-571, learn the secret of driving the foreign sub and sail her across the Atlantic. Tyler is a whiz at subs, but he's unproven (a point Paxton's character makes when explaining why he didn't recommend him for command). Instead, he relies on Chief Klough (Harvey Keitel) to explain what "Sub School" could not. After narrowly defeating the other U-boat, Tyler and his crew settle on the slightly less impossible of their two plans - sail for England, getting as close as possible without being sighted...by anybody. On discovery of U-571's capture, the Germans are certain to modify their Enigmas, and the recovery of the sub will have been in vain. (discovery is less likely in an eastward course, even though it means sailing in waters swimming with U-boats). By the end of the flick, Tyler will have barely survived a game of "cat and mouse" with a German destroyer, and a game of "The Caine Mutiny" with his own crew.
This flick took a lot of lumps for realism stretches, though most are unearned. The film neglects to mention that the Brits recovered Enigma machines years before we Yanks. OTOH, the events of "U-571" are set about a year after the RN's daring and critical recovery of Nazi code machines and documents, so the flick isn't depicting Americans accomplishing something before England had (which would have been unlikely anyway since we weren't officially in the war at the time). Rather than re-writing history, the script merely ignores it, but that makes sense also given how under-wraps such an event would have been in wartime. A disclaimer, mentioning that Enigma machines and materials had already been recovered a year earlier would have made hash of the film's premise, in which Tyler's crew braves enemy-filled waters to preserve the secret of their recovery. Taking an unrealistic premise - Tyler and his crew assimilating the incredibly complicated and undeniably foreign ship - "U-571" works in a very realistic way, with the script showing how quick thinking and not a small amount of luck saved the day, and how narrowly Tyler and crew beat the odds. The cinematography goes even further, letting us know that, contrary to what we've seen in "Run Silent, Run Deep" and "Destination Tokyo", Submarines were cramped and dark, leaked water, were very slow, groaned under the pressure of the water above and, when surfaced, dipped and climbed on waves like a tin can. This is probably the only flick since "Das Boot" to convey just how impossible a job it was to fight in subs in WWII. It's no "Das Boot", but "U-571" now makes it impossible to watch any of those quaint and propaganda-laden movies made during the war.
on October 24, 2002
U-571 follows a fictional crew of submariners who attempt to steal a German Enigma encoding machine from one of their U-Boats. The movie is led by an all-star cast including Bill Paxton as Lt. Commander Mike Dahlgren, Matthew McConaughey, who does an excellent job as X.O. Andy Tyler, Harvey Keitel as the rough and tough Chief Klough, and Jon Bon Jovi as Tyler's Annapolis buddy Lt. Pete Emmitt. The group is on a 48 hour pass when they are interrupted and told of a crippled German U-Boat that is adrift in the North Atlantic. A plan is devised to send in an American submarine disguised as a German U-Boat, board the enemy submarine, and steal the Enigma machine, which was used for encoding secret messages. The plan works well at the beginning, as the group is able to board the enemy submarine, but disaster soon follows as a real German submarine sent to repair the crippled one appears on the scene and fires a torpedo at the disguised American boat. Tyler, Chief Klough, Emmitt, and the other survivors are forced to board the crippled sub to escape. What happens next is a thrilling battle of wits between the Germans and Americans as the group attempts to escape with the Enigma while the Germans try to sink them.
The battle scenes, especially the depth charge attacks, are first-rate and very realistic. You can almost feel yourself shaking along with the crew as the depth charges move ever closer to the sub. Matthew McConaughey is outstanding in his role as Tyler as he tries to outwit the enemy and bring his crew to safety.
I am a big fan of submarine movies, including Crimson Tide and The Hunt for Red October, and U-571 deserves a place alongside these other fine films. I also thought the producers of the film did a nice job of including the names of actual World War II German submarines that were actually boarded and had their Enigma machines taken by the Allies at the end of the movie. If you enjoy submarine movies, then you will surely enjoy U-571. It is loaded with high-paced action and suspense that will be sure to hold your attention throughout.
on September 20, 2002
First off. It is not a documentary film. The film gives proper credit to the real heros that did capture the enigma machine at the end of the film.
It is a good movie. It is a fantasy if you will. Just like Top Gun was not a documentary, don't look at U-571 as one either.
That said. This is one of my favorite films. The special effects were very good (couple of visual images - surface ship blowing up - not so good). Very good use of models, full size replicas in the ocean. Outstanding detail to the interior of the u-boats, outstanding costumes.
The pace of the film, the suspense is just right. I'm a fan of submarine/u-boat movies. This ranks up there with Das Boat, Hunt for Red October, and Crimson Tide.
It is a no-nonsense action film. There is very, very little fluff. Unlike films like Top Gun (which I can watch in 25 minuts after FF by the chick flick stuff), it is all action.
Every time I watch it, I catch something new I didn't see or understand before.
The film does justice to the heros of WWII. All of them.
on September 10, 2002
What a nasty, trashy little film this is. I must say that America is doing its reputation abroad absolutely no good by producing films like this and 'the patriot'. I am quite astounded by the number of reviewers saying "this is a movie not a documentary...just enjoy this movie as good entertainment". You people need to get real.Realise the impact that the cinema has on todays society. Sad as it is some people actually get their history classes while eating a big tub of popcorn. But thats the way it is. I feel Holywood producers should be dutybound not to distort history. Why the need? You have a ready made script for you in any decent history book. And some reviewers have made mention of the historical note tied in with the end credits. Oh, this makes it all right doesn't it? Most people have already upped and left by the time this appears in a cinema, blah-blahing on about how great America was during the war, waving the stars and stripes. Read a history book. You weren't even in the war when a British trawler captured the enigma machine. Fortunately I have seen some American reviewers who are thoroughly ashamed of this film (you are a true credit to your nation). But for all you other mel gibson style 'patriots'; get an education! Just to say about the acting and atmosphere in the film; its okay, nothing special. Has absolutely nothing on Das Boot or the H.F.R.Oct. Not that decent acting or direction would have redeemed it in my eyes.