Cinema: U-571

Directed by Jonathan Mostow

April 1942. A U.S. submarine is camouflaged as a German U-boat in a zany scheme to capture the Reich's Enigma code. Flouting all rules of the sea but honoring every war-epic cliche about guts under pressure, Lieut. Matthew McConaughey and his team give a demonstration of old-fashioned mechanical virtuosity--of people doing difficult things well, including things they never thought they could. The sub is really a time machine: this brisk, not-quite-plausible thriller returns us to a time when men were men and movies were shorter.

--By Richard Corliss

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