I first watched this movie years ago. Then I promptly forgot about it. I was not sure why I forgot about it really since I did enjoy it (even if Matthew McConaughey is in it). I have almost always been a fan of World War II films. I used to watch Memphis Belle with my dad fairly regularly. (Betty note – if you haven’t seen that movie, you must. It is one of the best dramas of the genre.) I was browsing through Netflix recently and because I watched Reign of Fire, it suggested U-571. I know remember why I liked it, but I also remember why I forgot about it. But I will get to that later.
If you are not familiar with the plot, the crew of a US submarine sets sail to capture the Enigma machine on a stranded u-boat in open waters. They must fool the Germans, get on board the enemy boat, capture the machine, and get back without anyone knowing they had been there. As all good dramas go, things do not go as planned and the US crew ends up stranded on the German boat alone having to dodge both forces in an attempt to complete their mission.
First, what I liked about the movie. Because the film is contained almost entirely to submarines, the plot stays relatively cohesive. You are not constantly shot off in separate directions following other cast members because the cast cannot leave. Additionally, while not entirely within the realm of real, there are no big leaps of logic to content with (like Sean Connery’s accent in Hunt for the Red October). The historical facts are left fairly vague (like exact date and backstory of the characters) so there is room for artistic license without being offensive to us nerds.
Now, why I forgot about the movie. The ending. It broke the movie. Throughout all but the last 10 minutes or so, the movie was well paced with enough surprises and plot twists to keep you on your toes. But those last few scenes are frankly boring. I watched the movie just under a week ago and I had to stop and really think about how it ended. Now I am not picking on the choice to have the summary slides at the end telling the viewer what (historically) really happened. I did appreciate those even though I think Memphis Belle did a better job. I am specifically talking about the last few scenes with the actors in them. The acting itself wasn’t bad but the plot went out on a fizzle not a bang.
In summary, the movie is worth your time for a first view. The second view was not really the best use of my time. If you like the WWII film genre this is definitely a good one to watch when you don’t want a movie that makes you think too much.
Love and fish in the water,