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U-571: A WWII Submarine Thriller Review – Inaccurate History but Engaging Storytelling


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U-571: A WWII Submarine Thriller Rewrites History with Inaccuracies

When I first watched U-571 in theaters back in 2000, I believed it was based on true events. However, as I later discovered, this Jonathan Mostow film is actually a military drama filled with inaccuracies and misrepresentations of historical events. With the recent addition of U-571 to Netflix in September 2023, I decided to revisit the movie after more than a quarter-century.

U-571 Completely Rewrites History

The movie U-571 depicts American submariners attempting to steal an enigma machine from a damaged German submarine. However, the movie’s portrayal of the events is inaccurate as the British had already secured one of these devices and started deciphering secret codes months before. This inaccuracy caused controversy and criticism, including disapproval from high-ranking British officials.

The Cast Shines

U-571 boasts an impressive ensemble cast, with standout performances from Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel, and Bill Paxton. McConaughey’s portrayal of Andrew Tyler, Paxton’s sacrifice as Mike Dahlgren, and Keitel’s stern yet calming presence as Henry Klough result in well-rounded and memorable characters. Notably, Jake Weber and Tom Guiry deliver exceptional supporting performances.

A Tension-Filled Prologue

The movie’s opening scene, set during the Battle of the Atlantic, showcases the German crew of U-571 as they face a barrage of Allied attacks. This prologue effectively sets the stage for the entire film, introducing key elements such as the importance of the enigma machine and the presence of depth charges, which play a significant role in the story.

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A Terrifying and Intense Depth Charge Sequence

One of the most memorable scenes in U-571 is the depth charge sequence. While I don’t fully understand the mechanics of these underwater bombs, the tension and intensity of this extended set piece are undeniable. The cat-and-mouse game between the American submariners and the German destroyer has all the elements of an engaging battle, delivering a mix of action, chaos, and fear.

A Chaotic Sinking Sequence

U-571 also features a chaotic sequence when the American crew attempts to board the German submarine. The arrival of another German sub and a torpedo attack amidst a nighttime storm results in mayhem and confusion. Despite the chaos, this scene adds to the overall intensity of the movie, with exceptional performances from Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey.

A Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane

Watching U-571 again after many years was a nostalgic experience that brought back memories from my childhood. The movie’s straightforward storytelling and simpler approach harken back to a different era of filmmaking. While it may not have the same depth as other war movies, it is still entertaining and worth a watch.


If you’re in the mood for a war movie that takes liberties with historical events, U-571 is a great choice. Despite its inaccuracies, the film offers an engaging storyline, impressive performances, and thrilling sequences.

You can stream U-571 on Netflix and relive the memories or discover this submarine thriller for the first time.

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