First off, I should say that I don’t know a whole lot about submarine warfare (urban warfare is so much cooler). But then again, what percentage of American moviegoers really do? The makers of U-571 obviously felt that the correct way to educate us was to throw together many, many scenes of submariners getting tossed around like rag dolls, interspersed with shots of them glancing upwards, panting, and waiting to get tossed around again.
The story, I guess, was ripped off and refurbished by our beloved Hollywood jackasses to make us feel more patriotic. The plot goes like this: a German WWII submarine is crippled and is limping home somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic. The American Navy knows this and is also aware that the German sub is carrying some sort of code-breaker do-whicky that will help the Americans win the war. They send an American sub to pose as a German re-supply vessel. Oh, and there are only like two people on board the American sub who actually speak German. Somehow they are still convinced that this plan will work.
Ho hum, big surprise, the stupid Germans DO fall for this lame act. Too bad the American sub gets blown to smithereens as the charade is going on. Now our boys are stuck with a German sub to maneuver and have to outwit a whole fleet of Hitler’s finest. (A friend I saw the movie with said that, in the real story this movie was adapted from, it was actually the British who pulled this stunt and acquired the code-breaker thing. But I guess Hugh Grant wouldn’t have been as exciting to watch as the scintillating Matthew McConaughey).
The rest of the movie involves the shaking and tossing mentioned above. The only effects used were a whole lot of camera bouncing and tilting (think Star-Trek battle scenes), screaming, massive leakages of seawater and lots of explosions. However, you know the American boys aren’t really gonna get blown up, or else the movie would immediately cease. I lost count of how many times I prayed that would happen.
Matthew McConaughey delivers a very un-stellar performance, and I have no clue what Harvey Keitel was thinking when he agreed to do this film. Harvey even gets stuck with the worst line in the film. A little sailor boy asks him, “Captain, have you ever been depth-charged?” (by the way, there are about sixteen depth-charge scenes. I guess we are supposed to be continually intrigued by this), to which Keitel answers, “Yeah, once. One came so close that it rattled four teeth right out of the Skipper’s head.”
Oh, and did I mention Jon Bon Jovi also stars in this thing?
Excuse me, I think I’m gonna go join the other side.