By EW Staff
Updated February 11, 2000 at 05:00 AM EST
U-571, Matthew McConaughey
Credit: Mario Tursi
  • Movie

Mmm. a big-budget, effects-laden action film set largely on water. From Universal Studios. Why does that have a familiar ring? Actually, ”Waterworld” sounds like a day at the beach compared with what the actors went through to make ”U-571,” a fact- inspired World War II drama about a team of American sailors who snake behind enemy lines to swipe the Nazis’ infamous Enigma encryption machine.

During the five-month shoot ”they had to act at sea, with 15-foot waves thrashing them around, and all they wanted to do was puke,” says Mostow, who directed the terrific 1997 Kurt Russell thriller ”Breakdown.” ”They don’t teach that at the Lee Strasberg institute.” For McConaughey, the motion sickness was a small price to pay for a shot at his first big action role. ”I’ve been wanting to do something physical for a long time,” he says. ”To play a role where you just ‘take care of business.’ But the thing about action movies is that they usually don’t have very interesting characters. This one, though, has great characters. History gave us a great palette.”

And what history didn’t provide, the production designers cooked up themselves, like three full-scale reproductions of German U-boats, two for indoor water-tank filming, one for actual out-to-sea shooting. BUZZ FACTOR: 6

Go to the official website.


  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • 116 minutes
  • Jonathan Mostow