Reel Shorts | U-571

by Joe Barber

Set in 1942, this military submarine drama begins quietly with Lt. Andrew Tyler (Matthew McConaughey) finding out that he will not become commander of his own ship after 9 months of hard work “proving himself.” Captain Dahlgren (Bill Paxton), his superior delivers the news, which everyone seems to know about except Tyler.

The movie quickly takes shape as the sailors’ weekend pass is quickly snatched back. The men are hurried back to their ship to begin their mission of capturing the German code machine called “Enigma.” The quiet movie ends there. The key to the success for the sailors is that they must get the Enigma without the German’s knowing they have it.

McConaughey leads the cast from a soft-hearted officer to a hard-line commander who must get the mission done. Paxton makes it clear that he must be able to make a decision in a split-second even if means that his troops may lose their lives.  Although another military flick that’s shot in the close quarters of a submarine, great lengths are taken to keep the suspense and excitement in the film.

The only problem I had with the film is that the submarine that McConaughey’s men captured appeared to be the “super sub.” The sub was able to withstand the damage that the U.S. Navy put on it, and again twice by the Germans! Amazing!

In addition to McConaughey and Paxton, Jon Bon Jovi and Harvey Keitel do a great job to carrying the movie. But let’s not forget T.C. Carson’s (Kyle of Living Single fame) performance. Playing the sub’s cook, he has a leading role in the film and is instrumental in saving the submarine, and believe-it-or-not, the black man doesn’t get killed at the end.

Grade: A