Das Boot

Rated R 149 minutes

Director Wolfgang Petersen shows good pulp sense in setting up the atmosphere and action in this 1981 U-boat thriller, reinforcing the claustrophobia of the images with a sophisticated sound track and cutting the suspense sequences for a shrewd orchestration of audience emotion. Yet the film has no qualities beyond its formal polish—and its careful avoidance (or rather, displacement) of the moral and political issues involved can seem too crafty, too convenient. With Jurgen Prochnow as the scruffy, antiestablishment captain—a German Alan Alda.

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