Minute for minute, U-571 is one of the most tense and exciting war movies ever made, with the crew on the brink of disaster and often several disasters at once, for most of the running time. Indeed, it's so busy being exciting that it is sometimes impossible to tell what is going on, especially since the sets are so dark, drippy, and claustrophobic and the dialogue so jargon-crammed. Still, as Lt. Tyler learns, it isn't enough to be brave, loyal, and honorable.
Submarines immediately grab our attention. They are isolated and vulnerable. Once they leave the dock, they become a world of their own, with no time to wait for orders when they get into trouble. In movies from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to Operation Petticoat, Crimson Tide and The Hunt for Red October, we see men who must make life and death decisions without time or information, and we get to think, as we lean back and eat our popcorn, about how we'd fare so deep below the surface. We get to see some terrific examples of problem-solving and moral choices.