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Rated [PG-13], minutes
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and Jon Bon Jovi
Screenplay and Directed by Jonathan Mostow

Review by Paul Fischer. Cranky's review here. Links below for StarTalk

In this World War II action thriller, American reconnaissance agents learn that a German submarine is sinking. The doomed ship carries an Enigma Machine, a special coding device that allows high-level Axis forces to send messages that can't be read without a similar encryption mechanism. Obtaining a working Enigma device would be invaluable for the Allied war effort, so a U.S. sub is sent out to rescue the machine. However, German forces have already picked up the sub's distress signal and are en route to rescue their comrades. U-571 features a distinguished cast, including World War 2 may be back in vogue, but rarely has the genre been given such a solid, masterful workout, as this hypnotic film. Part actioner, part suspense thriller, U-571 is superior entertainment on a grand scale, a film of meticulous craftsmanship, under the remarkable direction of Jonathan Mostow. Mostow, who helmed the unnerving Kurt Russell thriller Breakdown, has here crafted an exemplary tale about courage and leadership. Yet this time around, he has shot his film on a wide, cinematic canvass, and his maturity and intelligence as a filmmaker are in full evidence here. There are numerous elements of this drama, all of which have been expertly handled. As a character study, U-571 examines what it takes to display true leadership, and while we know that leadership will be tested satisfactorily, the journey of protagonist Lt. Andrew Tyler (Matthew McConaughey) remains as absorbing as the drama that unfolds around him. McConaughey, Hollywood's least utilised leading man, finally delivers the performance he was born to convey, and he is a sterling presence on screen, giving a totally arresting performance. The rest of the ensemble, including rocker Jon Bon Jovi, and the perennially reliable Harvey Keitel and Bill Paxton, add solid support.

While being a character study, U-571 is a masterful suspense thriller, and Mostow knows how to heighten tension, yet making it subtle and absorbing all at once. The frenetic scenes aboard the two submarines, are magnificently handled, shot and furiously cut together, and the film's visuals are all topnotch. Featuring a resonant score by Rick Marvin, the splendid cinematography of Oliver Wood, and wonderful use of sound effects, U-571 is not just another World War 2 film. This is an accomplished work and a first rate thriller, the kind Hollywood rarely makes. Maybe now they will, and with Mostow at the helm.


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