When most people think of Matthew McConaughey, they picture him with his blonde hair and southern drawl in films like Dazed and Confused, Magic Mike, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Not many people mention his action thriller U-571 from 23 years ago, but it’s a great movie that is certainly worth a watch. It’s streaming right now on Netflix if you’re in the mood for an action-packed World War II submarine film.
U-571 stars Matthew McConaughey as a World War 2 Naval Officer and it’s now on Netflix.
In U-571, Matthew McConaughey still has his classic southern drawl, but he takes on a serious role as Lieutenant Andrew Tyler, a clean-shaven Navy officer who is in charge of a critical task during World War II. He and his Navy crew must attempt to retrieve a stranded German U-571 submarine that has a very valuable Enigma machine, the tool used to decode German messages, on board.
In a trojan horse operation, the Navy crew boards the submarine as an undercover rescue force in an effort to disguise their real mission. However, their cover quickly gets blown, forcing them to take the German crew hostage. The Americans need to think fast and play it smart before the Nazis descend on the submarine.
In addition to Matthew McConaughey, U-571 boasts an impressive cast that includes several big names. On the American side, Bill Paxton plays Lieutenant Commander Mike Dahlgren, Harvey Keitel plays Chief Gunner’s Mate Henry Klough, and Jon Bon Jovi plays Lieutenant Pete Emmett. On the German side, Thomas Kretschmann stars as Kapitänleutnant Günther Wassner, the distraught captain who fights to defend his crew against the Americans.
Over the years, U-571 has received favorable reviews from critics, garnering a 67 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.6 out of 10 rating on IMDb. In 2001, it was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Sound and Best Sound Editing. It ended up winning the award for Best Sound Editing, but it lost Best Sound to Gladiator.
Some audiences mistake the film as a historically true story since there actually was a German U-571 submarine during World War II. In actuality, the U-571 was in fact captained by Gustav Lüssow, but it was lost at sea on January 28, 1944. So, much like James Cameron’s Titanic (which also featured Bill Paxton), the story is inspired by actual events but is otherwise completely fictionalized.
U-571 made $127 million at the box office, doubling its production budget.
Despite the film’s fictional storyline, it still received a lot of backlash for historical and technical inaccuracies. For instance, some have pointed out that the German U-boats in the film would not have torpedoes or guns, so they could not have attacked the other vessels. Similarly, the actors yell “Fire!” when launching a torpedo in the film, but the real command is actually “Shoot!”
After U-571 was released, many British citizens, including the Prime Minister of the UK, spoke out against the film since it seemingly gave credit to the United States for capturing and decoding the Nazi Enigma machine from the submarine. In actuality, the Royal Navy were the ones who captured the machine. This inspired the caption at the end of the film that details the true story of the events.
Those who understood that the film was a fictionalized story and didn’t mind the inaccuracies enjoyed the performances from the impressive cast and crew. Though the events in the film did not happen, it still manages to capture what it’s like for a Navy crew to experience real-time war. While Matthew McConaughey wasn’t playing a real officer, the bravery of the Navy sailors during World War 2 can not be denied.
After U-571 was released, many British citizens, including the Prime Minister of the UK, spoke out against the film since it seemingly gave credit to the United States for capturing and decoding the Nazi Enigma machine from the submarine.
Originally, Michael Douglas was supposed to star in U-571, but when he left to work on Wonder Boys, Matthew McConaughey stepped in as Lieutenant Andrew Tyler. At the time, he was still fairly new to the Hollywood scene, having landed his breakout role in Dazed and Confused nine years earlier.
Shortly after U-571, he began starring in romantic comedies like The Wedding Planner, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Failure to Launch. Next up for the southern charmer, he will star in a Yellowstone spinoff TV series, though production on this has yet to begin due to the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. While you wait for his next project, check out U-571 on Netflix.