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Review: U-571 (2000)

Director: | 115 minutes | thriller, | Actors: Harvey Keitel, , Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bon Jovi, David Keith, , , Jack Noseworthy, , Will Estes, Terrence ‘TC’ Carson, Erik Palladino, , , Matthew Settle , Rebecca Tilney, , Dina De Laurentiis, , Rob Allyn, Carsten Voigt, , , , Kai Maurer, Robert Lahoda, , Erich Redman, , , , Martin Glade, Oliver Osthus, , , Valentina Ardeatini

You can blame the American film industry a lot, but not a lack of ambition. With ‘U-571’ Hollywood hoped to overthrow the German submarine classic ‘Das Boot’, but that did not work out. In any case, the attempt has resulted in a nice film that never really sparkles, but never gets really boring. In short, ‘U-571’ is the popcorn flick made flesh.

Director Jonathan Mostow uses ‘poetic freedom’ and based his World War II thriller ‘U-571’ on true events that he adapted somewhat for his predominantly (American) audience. A team of soldiers is sent to intercept a German submarine. This U-571 contains a coding machine that makes it possible to decipher German codes. A group of brave Americans (in reality they were British) do everything they can to score this information. That is not easy. Especially when the Nazis go after the Yanks.

Forged history or not, ‘U-571’ has become an entertaining war film (although English veterans will probably think otherwise). The claustrophobic situation in the boat and the hopeless situation in which the characters find themselves provides a few nail-biting moments. Matthew McConaughey’s solid acting is without a doubt the best the movie has to offer. The Texan actor is good at his role and portrays his character as a complex character who is alternately sympathetic, cold, calculated, vulnerable and disgusting. In short: you are looking at a real person. Why character actors like Bill Paxton and Harvey Keitel have signed on for this film, unfortunately, remains a mystery. The men are not given much space and their characters remain too flat to fascinate. ‘U-571’ is a film of missed opportunities, but one that is still damn fun to watch. Mostow’s work could have become a classic, but misses too many opportunities. Its a shame, but there is nothing to do about it.

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