The breakthrough for the Allied forces in World War-II was the capture of the Enigma machine and this is a movie that commemorates that event in a action packed adventure.
The movie starts with a German U-boat attacking an Allied ship, but then being stalked by a destroyer itself. After being severely damaged by depth charges, it surfaces, hapless and awaiting help. The Americans learn of this and decide to send in their own submarine. For this they pick the S-33, a vintage submarine, but one which is still a deadly weapon. The boat chosen is commanded by Lt. Commander Dahlgren, who's seconded by Lt. Tyler (McConaughey). Tyler is a hard-working sailor who hopes to be able to lead his boat one day. Denied this request for the present, he and the rest of the crew get down to setting off for their rendezvous with the Germans. The reason for this is soon explained by the special agents on board - the German sub possesses the Enigma machine, which is vital to the Allied decryption efforts.
Once the S-33 reaches the U-571 (ahead of another U-boat racing towards them), a small attack team goes across, disguised as Germans. Once close enough, they attack and capture the U-boat and - more importantly - the Enigma machine. However, by this time the real German rescue submarine reaches the scene and destroys the S-33, leaving only a handful of Americans on board the U-571. Somehow, they manage to escape and destroy the submarine. But before they can rest, they are found by a German destroyer and the rest of the movie is full of the tense chase, in which the Americans try to save themselves.
The movie is a fictional inspiration of several efforts used to capture the Enigma. As is to be expected, most of the action is underwater and in the submarines, though that is not necessarily a bad thing. The effect of cramped spaces and the ocean's unrelenting nature is brought home quite vividly throughout the movie. So too is the mortal danger submariners live in, as the scenes with the depth charges brings home quite conclusively. The action scenes, thus, are quite good and realistic.
The actors are not required to do much and - with that in mind - they perform quite well. McConaughey gives a good performance as the struggling and desperate Tyler and is ably supported by Harvey Keitel as his Chief Officer. The rest of the cast fill in till the script requires them to be killed or drowned, as the case may be. The direction is quite crisp and doesn't delay much. It also doesn't get too unrealistic, which is a plus point for it.
Though not comparable to movies like "Hunt for Red October", it does have a certain appeal of its own. Worth a watch.This article was first published on 30 Aug 2000.