U571 features a rag-tag group of actors including Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel and a virtualy unrecognizable Jon Bon-Jovi. The dialogue comes off as cheesy at times and the usual war-film cliches are abundant, but the combination of an intricate plot and amazingly detailed sound holds your interest through the entire 108 minutes.
Mostow, who's previous big screen effort was the underrated Kurt Russell thriller Breakdown, manages to use sound to drive the action in the film. When the sub dives to extreme depths, you can hear (and feel when watching in the right theatre) the walls of the sub creaking on all sides. The feeling of pressure is conveyed extremly well in these scenes.
The real beauty of the movie lies in the depth charge sequences. Without giving too much of the plot away, lets just say at one point in the film a sub is being peppered with multiple depth charges (basically a water version of a land mine). The charges themselves are shown sporadically on screen, but you can feel their intensity. Quiet and distant at first, they build in volume and eventually resonate throughout the theatre. The cinematography supports this well as the camera shakes wildly with the more intense blasts. In a nice contrast, the periods of silence between these attacks stand out in their tranquility. You find yourself taking deep breaths along with the characters in the film.
If the purpose of a film is to put the audience "in the movie", then U571 succeeds on multiple levels. Throughout the film, I really felt like I was one of the crew on the U571. I left the movie suprisingly pleased, even after the film's typical hollywood ending. I do recommend paying the extra buck or two to see this movie in a theatre equiped with optimum sound. I'm curious if other people who saw the movie in a more average theatre had the same experience.