Directed by Jonathan Mostow.
Written by Sam Montgomery, David Ayer and Jonathan Mostow.
Starring Matthew McConaughey, Harvey Keitel and Bill Paxton.
Release Year: 2000
Review Date: 4/24/00
Well, the good news keeps rolling in for
Bellview in 2000; today, it was a phone call from my landlord to
inform me of what is becoming so regular it is scary: by the end of
August (preferably to him, by the end of July), the Chuckwagon and I
have got to move out. So, for the ninth time in eight years (last
year, I had to move twice), I get to move again!! YES. If anyone
needs help on how to pack boxes, safely wrap wall art and glassware,
or secure the services of a U-Haul around mid-August--when every
fucking 18-22 year old in the country is also trying to rent a
U-Haul to go to college--please, let Chuck or myself know. If you
live in the DC area, please keep the end of August open so that you
can carry a couple of boxes from our loft to the truck.
On Saturday, Chuck and I rolled over to a
sold-out theater to catch "U-571", the submarine action-thriller
with Matthew McConaughey, Jon Bon Jovi, and Harvey Keitel. I think
for this review, I want to talk about what this movie isn't, rather
than what it is.
First off, "U-571" is NOT "Crimson Tide",
the last submarine thriller that really registered on the radar
screen in theaters. "Crimson Tide"'s antagonistic tone--not to
mention the great acting of Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman--made
for better in-sub sequences and more interest in the characters on
board. "U-571" has a motley crew of nine soldiers that are better
trained as sailors than as marines, so it is interesting to watch
these men take over a German U-boat as the odds are stacked against
them. There is far more action in "U-571" than other submarine
movies, which is a good thing, I think. While the characters--McConaughey's
unproven naval lieutenant, Keitel's second-in-command crew chief,
and the host of young, fresh faces that are common in all war
movies--are given some shades of personality, none are as fully
developed as those in "Crimson Tide" and as some of "U-571"'s heroes
fall to their dooms, you know it is coming and that can provide some
pretty good laughs.
Warning: part of the next paragraph
gives away the ending.
"U-571" is NOT "The Hunt for Red October", a
movie so ingeniously plotted that you really don't know what is
going to happen until the final moments. (Man, Alec Baldwin dropped
the ball by not renewing his Jack Ryan contract and letting Harrison
Ford take all the glory in the later two Tom Clancy movies!)
"U-571" is extremely tense at times, and the little details that it
apparently gets right about life on a submarine were very
interesting and a bit different than most sub movies that seem to
leave these details out (the flood of water that comes down through
the periscope whenever it is raised or lowered into the bridge, for
example). But, McConaughey's character gets too many things right
in the final 30 minutes about how he can get out of his precarious
situation, and I thought the ending was too perfect for a movie that
really made good use of how the good guys can get things wrong.
And, with a Luke-destroys-the-Death-Star scenario to end the movie,
it just seemed TOO perfect for me.
"U-571" is NOT a romantic comedy. I don't
think that a single woman had a line in the movie, but it is a WWII
sub drama. I guess that makes some sense! But, what this movie
does do well is scare the hell out of you if you can really imagine
being on a submarine for six months--it really does seem tight on
that German U-boat, and what if you are stuck on a raft in the
middle of the Atlantic? Mmm, scary--for some of you, this was like
seeing my ass in "Gratuitous"...the visions of it just make you
shoot out of bed in a cold sweat!!
So, what IS "U-571"? It is the beginning of
the summer movie season. It is as straightforward a movie as you
will find these days, it appeals to a mass audience, and it had over
six minutes of depth charge explosions...or, about five minutes too
many. So, in that vein, it is really loud, really explosive and has
amazing special effects--plus, it is a lot of fun watching us
gringos take down those Nazi bastards. Just what the doctor
Rating: $8.25 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard