U-571

Movie review by
Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
U-571 Movie Poster Image
A very tense and exciting war movie.
  • PG-13
  • 2000
  • 116 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Violence

Nonstop tension, many characters killed.

Sex

Very mild.

Language

A few strong words.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some social drinking, smoking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that U-571 is an exceptionally intense and scary movie. Many people are brutally killed, including characters that the audience comes to care about.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySoccer08 April 9, 2008

Attention: WWII movie fans

U571 is a very good WWII portrayal of life on a submarine in combat. Mathew McConaughey does an excellent job as the executive officer on a US submarine disgui... Continue reading
Parent of a 13 year old Written byTsion March 22, 2009

A Decent War Movie...

U-571 is a good war movie, and it will no doubt appeal to older kids and teens. There are several plot gaps and implausible moments, but it ends up being a pre... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bymoviemogul 2.0;... April 9, 2008

Yeah, it was ok...

It tired too hard to keep its audience tense, so as a result, it almost got boring because it was so repetitive with its explosions and "oh, are we going t... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bybananalover March 23, 2011

U-571

best war movie ever. period

What's the story?

U-571, a fictional story inspired by several different WWII incidents, follows a group of sailors who are trying to capture the German's Engima code machine, so that they can find out where the U-boats are headed in time to prevent them from sinking the Allies' supply ships. As the movie begins, Lt. Tyler (Matthew McConaughey) is bitter at not having been recommended for command. The Captain (Bill Paxton) explains that it is not enough that Tyler is willing to give his life for the men. He must be willing to order them to give their lives, and then he has to be able to live with the consequences. And he as to be able to do it "without pause, without reflection, or you've got no business being a submarine captain." Later, when Tyler and his men have taken over the U-Boat, and his first orders are tentative, Chief Klough (Harvey Keitel), the non-commissioned officer who has seen it all, takes him aside to tell him that "The skipper always knows what to do, whether he does or not." Tyler is confronted with decision after decision, forced to choose quickly and credibly among nothing but long shots.

Is it any good?

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how we develop the foundation of values and experience to enable us to make those choices. They should also talk about the difference between fiction and reality. The setting and the references to historical incidents like the capture of the Enigma may lead people who watch this movie to believe that it was based on a true story. It is not. It is based on pieces of several stories, mostly involving British, not American, sailors and soldiers, and it is heavily fictionalized, at times bearing more relation to Star Wars than it does to history.

Movie details

For kids who love action

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