Sound: B+ Extras: C Film: C
Jonathan Mostow’s U-571 (2000) is a reactionary and
strange action film, as well as one of the last of its kind before 9/11. It was also part of a cycle of such films in
the genre including Pearl Harbor and The Siege that seemed to
just be acing for something bad to happen in real life, then it did. I doubt the film would be made quite the
same way now, but it was revisionist history to begin with, crediting the U.S.
and not Britain with obtaining the Nazi Decoder that was winning them the war
for a long, dark period of time. That
is the premise of the James Bond film From Russia With Love (1963) even
though it has its own exaggerations, they cannot match this film’s.
Matthew McConaughey stars as the really quasi-Fascist
young Navy Captain who has to take some wet-behind-the-ears young men out to
sea to battle the Nazis out of nowhere in their submarine. They have to pretend to be Nazis; but with
McConaughey’s character slapping recruits around saying their arrangement is
not a democracy, that will not be a stretch for him. Can they trick the enemy and get one of the valuable boxes that
can change the course of the war? Will
it matter in the Captain’s hands? Good
thing there’s plenty of explosions to keep us from thinking about the
Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jake Weber, Jack Noseworthy,
David Keith and even Jon Bon Jovi co-star in this would-be thriller that never
shakes the sense that it is so by the numbers.
Even if you suspend the revisionist history of the film robbing credit
that should go to British Intelligence, it has so many other narrative,
ideological and pacing problems that the fact it was a hit is luck on the part
of the producers. Mostow can direct,
but the film is pretty empty when all is said and done. Of course, Bon Jovi in any film is a stamp
of bad news, but there is little in the way of suspense and you could honestly
care less about anyone or what happens.
They are all miserable, as is the film. Noseworthy offers the boredom-breaker of the film listening for
explosive charges as he keeps whispering that he hears “splashes” just before
the sub is rocked like a U.S.S. Enterprise attack in the Star Trek
franchise. Crimson Tide this is
The 2.35 X 1 digital 1080i High Definition image was shot
by cinematographer Oliver Wood in Super 35 and has not aged that well. It was very slightly darkened to make us
think the 1940s, then that action sequences retained some of that before
entering its own surreal world of digital and water, the latter of which was
often digital or maybe even dry-for-wet shooting. It was nothing special then and not very memorable on a visual
level. With so many other films looking
as generic these days, that situation has only become worse.
The sound mix is inarguable, offered with up to 7.1 tracks
in its theatrical release at theaters showing it in 2000 in the theater-only
SDDS (Sony Dynamic Digital Sound) format and was also issued in the D-VHS
D-Theater format where it was considered one of the best performers before
prerecorded product in that format folded.
This HD-DVD offers solid 5.1 mixes in both Dolby Digital Plus and
regular DTS versions that should make just about everyone happy. No, Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD are not included
and Richard Marvin’s score is unmemorable too, but it makes for a great sound
demo if nothing else.
Extras include six featurettes and director’s commentary
that are only enjoyable if you like the film.
- Nicholas Sheffo