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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: PG-13 for war violence

Reviewed by: Seth T. Hahne

Better than Average
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Thriller, Drama
2 hr.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
U-571 Poster
Featuring: Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bon Jovi, Bill Paxton, David Keith, Harvey Keitel
Director: Jonathan Mostow
Producer: Dino De Laurentiis, Martha De Laurentiis
Distributor: Universal

Though derivative of “Das Boot” (Wolfgang Peterson’s 1981 submarine-flick-to-end-all-submarine-flicks), “U-571” is an admirable update to a genre that hasn’t seen strong American exhibition since perhaps 1958’s “Run Silent Run Deep” and will likely be the first high-grade submarine film most American audiences will ever have the pleasure of seeing (since “Das Boot” is a German film). Though not as claustrophobic as its foreign predecessor, “U-571” does bring home a modicum of the deep-sea tension upon which such films (and especially those circa WWII) are generally themed—complete with engine problems, depth charges, the pressure-weakened hull, and the ubiquitous (but alarming all the same!) radar pings.

U-571 scene“U-571” tells the more fiction-than-fact story of some undersea sailors (with an eye toward stepping on Goosesteppers) who inadvertently take command of a German U-boat (hence the film’s title) while attempting to steal a Nazi coding device: Enigma. As often occurs in submarine fare, things go awry. And awry. And further awry. And further awry still.

“U-571” does come out ahead of its German predecessor in a couple of categories. The special effects are, well, affecting; especially good are the sea-battle fireworks at the climax—on this count, I highly recommend a large screen with a great sound-system. Also relieving was the films length. At a brisk 1:56, “U-571” never has time to drag (on my fourth viewing, “Das Boot”’s 3:28 became quite daunting). Also of note are some familiar-though-skin-headed faces: Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel, Bill Paxton, and Jon Bon Jovi all don their best sailing togs for this adventure—and do a fine job I might add.

As far as moral content, like most war movies, there is violence, but most of the results of gunplay occur off-screen and the explosions tend toward antiseptic. There is some mild profanity, but remembering that these are sailors; I think we may have gotten off quite easy. And for the coup de gras, Harvey Keitel DOES keep his pants on! This fact alone could have merited the $8.50 I spent at the ticket window.

Viewer Comments
“U-571” is one of the worst movies I have seen in recent years, and I’ve been pretty forgiving of the movies I’ve seen lately. Any good action movie, or any movie for that matter, should still hold your attention during the scenes of dialogue. How does “U-571” stand up? Well, let me put it this way. My roommate was so bored in one of the dialogue scenes, that he was actually looking at one of the characters watches the entire time. He was so engrossed by this watch that he noticed that the scene actually ended about five minutes before it started (according to the on-screen watch). What was the scene about? Something to do with Harvey Keitel barking something about never second-guessing yourself. But I should have know it was going to be a bad movie when the second scene in the film is a “let’s get to know the characters that you, the gullible audience member, are supposed to care for.” And you know what—I didn’t care for a single one of them. Except for maybe Jon Bon Jovi, and the only reason for that is that I wanted to see if he could actually act; “Living On A Prayer” [was a] great song. [This was a] bad movie. My Ratings: [2/1]
—Josh Hornbeck, age 22
Good action movie, but too bad Americans have to take credit for what was a British caper. The Royal Navy—not the US Navy—were the actual heros who nabbed the Enigma machine from the Germans. Can’t we get a bit of REAL history? My Ratings: [3/2]
—Jack Nolan, age 33
As a Christian morals-minded movie critic, I was relieved after seeing “U-571”. It was a breath of fresh air among such recent immoral films. This flick, although not perfect, is one that adults need not worry about letting their teens see. It starts slowly and I actually found myself squirming from idleness throughout the films first 20 minutes. Then the action starts to heat up and it goes on a non-stop rampage. This film is violent, but not gory whatsoever. I had expected a fairly large amount of swear words, considering all characters in the movie were sailors, but I was pleasantly suprised. There is no sex or nudity. In fact, there is hardly a woman in the whole movie! Now don’t lose hope ladies, this is not a MMM (Male Macho Movie). A thoroughly entertaining movie. My Ratings: [3½/4½]
—Andy McClure, age 17
“U-571”… Hmmm… first off, it tries hard to copy the feel of the great “Das Boot.” Unfortunately, it falls flat in trying to emulate the “Das Boot.” Aside from the special effect, “Das Boot” should forever remain a classic. As for the “U-571”, though it fails to match “Das Boot,” it still is a good movie, with good special effects, etc. It was okay, with respects to scripts and character development. Though, I was somewhat disappointed in their use of history. I mean, a German destroyer in the middle of Atlantic? Firing a torpedo under water to sink another sub? Well, as for the moral quality… there were some cussing and gruesome deaths, but I was impressed with the fact that deaths were treated with dignity, unlike in most Hollywood movies. My Ratings: [3/3]
—Young J Lee (Champaign), age 23
Great WWII movie! Sure, there was violence and foul language, but what is to be expected of a war movie? I personally don’t remember the language being that rampant through the movie, but perhaps I was too caught up in the plot to notice. I would definitely recommend this movie with surround sound. You’ll feel like you’re in the sub with them! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Go see it!
—Betsy Shock, age 17
Maybe I’m biased because I am a history buff, but this is the movie to come out in the past year. It shows us what our sailors did during the Battle of the Atlantic to preserve democracy. Yes, there is language, but it isn’t excessive, what I noticed was: 15-20 uses of G** D***, and 5-10 of S***. SEE THIS MOVIE.
—Josh, age 17
I keep hearing negative comments about this movie… like… it has a bad plot, too bloody, bad directing/acting. I honestly don’t understand what they are talking about. I saw this movie the day it came out because it looked like an awesome navy, beat-em-up movie, about war heros on submarines. This movie gave me all that and more. Wonderfull acting, keeps you on your seat the entire time. Yes, a little violence and profanity. Not one for little ones. That’s why its rated (PG-13). NOTHING compared to “Saving Private Ryan.” (I have seen both movies) The amount of foul language and killing is far less in “U-571”. If you want to be kept in suspense for an hour and a half or so, this is the way to do it. (don’t listen to the reviews… see it yourself)
Subsea action. Fine special effects. Tense continuous nailbiters. And the main character grows up and becomes a real sub captain. Sounds like a winner right? Nope. I sat through “U-571” waiting to figure out why I was there. Sure, the depth charges sure sound real—after a dozen of those I got the drift. I think this film fails because it is pretentious i.e. James Bond gets real serious and tries to honor the brave veterans of WWII. Oh, and add lots of “Conair” type action sequences just to make sure we see how really brave and brilliant they were. Finally, don’t forget some fairly bloody violence: this is war afterall. I think the actors did fine considering what they were given to work with. If only the script had been on par with the special effects. A lot of potential that amounted to no more than a forgettable film. Oh well, yawn.
—Todd Adams, age 32
…The only complaint I have is that the script did not really bring the conclusion full circle. The film begins landside, with a young Navy officer being denied promotion because his superior officers don’t think him ready for the harsh responsibilities of command. This sub-plot runs throughout the film, and at the end I expected a resolution, but was not given one. There’s a good deal of cursing and swearing, but I didn’t think it conspicuous. The sailors are also seen praying and calling out to God in times of great need. There is a great deal of violence, both from the Nazis and the Americans, although this film makes it clear that the Americans are the “good guys”… My Ratings: [3½/4½]
—Timothy Blaisdell, age 34
I thought this movie was great. There was very little profanity. There was a lot of violence that was the only problem with this movie. The great thing was there was no sex or nudity. It truly was an exciting movie.
—Josh, age 15
…This movie has some profanity, alludes to sex, and has major violence… Since it is a war movie, there is an abundant amount of violence. The majority of the movie takes place in submarines. I am definitely not a war movie fan, but I went with my husband anyway. I actually brought a book and earplugs just in case, but this movie had me glued to the screen the entire time. Lots and lots of action, suspense, twists and turns. I really would recommend this movie for adults ONLY, as long as you go into it knowing that it IS a war movie. There is nothing biblical about this movie, and there is nothing biblical about war. I think the people that fought in WWII all prayed to God, even the atheists. This movie is not for children under the age of 18 (in my opinion). My Ratings: [1½/4½]
—Tina Davitt, age 34
I thought this was one of the best action movies I’ve seen. It grabs your attention, and doesn’t let go. Bravery in the face of frightening circumstances and men doing their job no matter what the risk were presented in a very effective manner. I’d recommend it to anyone.
—Phil, age 52
A WWII submarine movie, similar to “Das Boot”. Aside from the bad language, it was a good movie, as far as I remember. The heros faced hard moral and practical decisions, and they rose to the occasion. With so many modern movies’ message of nihilism or hedonism, it’s nice to see a movie that is ennobling, e.g. sacrifice in performance of duty, responsible leadership, and obedience.
—Jim Yuill, age 39
If you’re an edge-of-your-seat action buff, you will love U-571. Among the many movies based on World War II, this movie would have to rank in the top ten of the most recent films. Great cinematography, special effects and acting give a great experience of realism and excitement to the movie… Although there are no f-words in the movie, there is some language used, there is no sex, only one spoken reference where pornography is mentioned. There is some gore, but it is not gratuitous and excessive gore is actually avoided. Christians shouldn’t have many problems with this movie except for the occasional language, it represents struggle through adversity and as good morals as can be expected for a war movie. All in all a great film that all should see. My Ratings: [3/4]
—Ben Manuel, age 16