Director: Jonathan Mostow
Writer: Jonathan Mostow, Sam Montgomery, and David Ayer
Cinematographer: Oliver Wood
Producer: Dino De Laurentiis and Martha De Laurentiis
by Jon Cvack
Continued from Part 1...
Being away on location for a film shoot and confined to a bedroom with nothing other than my laptop, I watched the film with my studio headphones and had an absolute blast. Whatever you think about this story, the film has absolutely incredible sound design, going on to take the Oscar for Best Sound Editing. I’ve watched the movie many times, but it was only with headphones that I truly got to experience its glory, where you can hear every tiny squeak and breath which creates the highly claustrophobic atmosphere.
The impact of Das Boot is abundantly clear, though falls far short of the Wolfgang’s masterpiece. Steadicams follow with the sailors as they race down the corridors, working their way between compartments, closing doors and opening them. Shot wide, there’s depth to the frame, with focus pulling between sweaty close ups, complementing each sound we hear as they are left ever wondering whether the next explosions will be the last. And it’s here that McConaughey really shines, as again, while during the last time I watched the film he was perceived as the Rom Com lead, now that I’ve seen him steal the show in Mud, Interstellar, and Dallas Buyers Club - I came with fresh eyes. His performance has such subtle nuances and flavors, as he attempts to maintain calmness, searching to make the right decisions within seconds, hoping it’s the right one. Opposite Harvey Keitel as Chief Gunner’s Mate Henry Klough, the pair’s dynamic is powerful. Klough’s honor demands that he abides by each order, knowing that it’s not about whether he agrees or not, so much that discipline's vital in maintaining the crew’s morale. Keitel finds such a delicate balance, in which we’re never really wondering why he’s never moved up to Captain. It’s clear that he doesn’t at all want the role, finding his greatest strength in building up and encouraging the men. Counter to his often bad boy persona, Keitel’s prowess makes it believable; serving as the type of mentor you’d want if enlisted, knowing he’s always acting in the best interest of the crew.
It’s a film where once you accept the heavy embellishment, you can sit back and enjoy the show. This isn’t to be celebrated for his historical inaccuracies like Saving Private Ryan, When Trumpets Fade, or The Thin Red Line that’s trying to portray the horrors and realities of war. It’s a popcorn movie with big action scenes and excellent sound, kind of about duty and - if pressing just a tad - sacrifice. It’s the type of WWII film by the likes of Guns of Navarone or Where Eagles Dare, taking place beneath the water rather than on land. It’s not perfect, but it’s a fun one. And if you got headphones, it provides a nearly brand new viewing experience. Turn it up loud.
BELOW: McConaughey shines as a WWII Submarine Captain action star
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