xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
"U-571" is a clever wind-up toy of a movie, almost a trailer for a video game. Compared to "Das Boot" or "The Hunt For Red October," it's thin soup. The characters are perfunctory, the action is recycled straight out of standard submarine formulas, and there is one shot where a man is supposed to be drowning and you can just about see he's standing on the bottom of the studio water tank.
To some degree movies like this always work, at least on a dumb action level. The German destroyer is overhead, dropping depth charges, and the crew waits in hushed suspense while the underwater explosions grow nearer. We're all sweating along with them. But hold on a minute. We saw the Nazis rolling the depth charges overboard, and they were evenly spaced. As the first ones explode at a distance, there are several seconds between each one. Then they get closer. And when the charges are right on top of the sub, they explode one right after another, like a string of firecrackers--dozens of them, as leaks spring and water gushes in and lights blink and the surround sound rocks the theater.
At a moment like this, I shouldn't be thinking about the special effects. But I am. They call attention to themselves. They say the filmmakers have made a conscious decision to abandon plausibility and put on a show for the kids. And make no mistake: This is a movie for action-oriented kids. "Das Boot" and "The Hunt for Red October" were about military professionals whose personalities were crucial to the plot. The story of "U-571" is the flimsiest excuse for a fabricated action payoff. Submarine service veterans in the audience are going to be laughing their heads off.
Matthew McConaughey stars as Lt. Tyler, an ambitious young man who thinks he's ready for his first command. Not so fast, says Lt. Cmdr. Dahlgren (Bill Paxton). He didn't recommend his second-in-command because he thinks he's not there yet: Not prepared, for example, to sacrifice the lives of some men to save others, or the mission. This info is imparted at one of those obligatory movie dance parties at which all the Navy guys look handsome in white dress uniforms, just before they get an emergency call back to the boat.