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on July 13, 2015
In Enemy Hands is a very powerful movie about war and respect.

William H. Macy stars as the Chief of the Boat (COB) of USS Swordfish. Swordfish, out on patrol in WWII, has its crew fall under meningitis. In a fight with a German U-boat, Swordfish is mostly destroyed and the crew abandons at sea only to be picked up by the same U-boat (U-429) who took her under.

The XO (Second in Command) of Swordfish had the disease and owing to an order from the new, young CO, was required to status his watch station during battle. Subsequently, he passed the meningitis on to other members of the crew. Being taking aboard 429, the sick crewmen eventually pass it on to the German sailors.

The real story is how the two crews eventually had to work with each other in order to stay alive. Macy's character is a realist. He wants his crew to survive and the only way to do so it through cooperation.

This is a very well acted movie on all parts. The Germans who tolerate the Americans as well as the Germans who do not. That goes equally for the Americans who tolerate the Germans and those who do not. They are all believable.
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on August 6, 2015
While it was a little unbelievable, it was entertaining. The story line was unusual but it worked. I would have had pneumonia be the disease, not meningitis. Oh well... As for accuracy, I am sure some submariners will criticize it, but for the rest of us it was fine. It is very difficult to live up to the classic WWII submarine films with the best being "Das Boot".

Somewhere, I read that this film was loosely based upon a true story. However, it is a fictional tale of enemies becoming one in working to save themselves. In that, it was remarkable and as some have mentioned, was a very good anti-war film.

There was once a POW camp close to where I live and my parents told me that it held some German submariners during the war. It was rumored that they were allowed to do outside work under strict supervision, but I cannot corroborate that claim. However, relatives once said the Germans were very happy to be out of the war and enjoyed their time here in the middle of the US. I wonder how many actually stayed here following the war?

In reality, only a few U-boats were ever captured by the USN and in a case or two, were actually able to snag an Enigma machine and some German Navy documents. It would have been suicidal to get within 100 miles of the US coast, but a few U-boats did when they snuck spies into the US earlier in our involvement in the war, which resulted in all of the spies being captured. I believe all were executed, but I am not sure.

This film is entertaining and has quite a cast of excellent actors. It is a shame that it was never marketed in theaters in the US, as the general public missed a chance to see a very good film.
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on July 9, 2005
The other reviewers that is.

This is a fabulous film that superficially is about WW2 submarine warfare (and yes you can see there's a lot of low-rent sets...especially the interior shots of the American submarine). In Enemy Hands is the best male-ensemble war film since Platoon...& maybe better. It isn't William Gacy's best effort(he seems to throw off his lines like an aging hipster)

& perhaps it's because Til Schweiger absolutely steals the film with his nuanced deeply effective performance of the U-boat Captain.

What I think is truly subversive is the metaphor- in this case meningitis that affects the American crew and later contaminates the German crew which has rescued the them. You don't have to dig deep (or think too hard) to find that this is an anti-war film on the surface and a clever way of critiquing America's influence

and culture throughout the world. The film id's it as a disease- a fatal disease that infects all.

And it's somewhat of a trojan horse in that it masquerades as the familiar genre of naval warfare films.

Look closely- the German actors are wonderful to look at...they look healthy...the Americans? Wimpy, non-descript, outside of the head bangin'banty-rooster American sub commander.

This is a hidden gem of a film- perhaps too subtle for a mass-audience of film goers. If you've taken a good film history class or studied acting- I think you'll be blown away.
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on January 10, 2005
Having NOT seen this in a theater, as it was only released on DVD in the U.S., I can only comment on the DVD version. I have seen half of it in English (in which Germans are speaking excellent English), and all of it dubbed in German (released in Germany, with no subtitles). There, of course, the Americans are speaking German all too well.

This film must be taken for what it is, I think. A showcase for W.H. Macy (his acting is not superficial, nor are his interactions with his wife, whom he had to leave as Chief on the U.S.S. Swordfish). Sure, the numbers and names of ships are all wrong. Did NO Kapitän-Leutnant serve underwater with his blue tunic on, as suggested by one reviewer? This is a good introduction to Til Schweiger, who really is of matinee-idol stature and appearance, as Captain of one U-Boat, and the first watch officer (Thomas Kretschmann) really shows his acting talents....compeletely different in Stalingrad, The Pianist, U-571. Perhaps Mr. Macy was not challenged by the role, and the meningitis outbreak is unbelieveable....but aren't movies unbelieveable. Do they not require suspension of disbelief, even the best?

I did not expect the Barry Lyndon of U-Boat movies. The sets are too wide, the U.S. sub is too brightly lit...but the "best set" film has been done (Das Boot) and took a year to film (see the Director's Cut DVD). Other criticisms are hollow...the flag, the seaman appearing to wear a modern German Navy tunic (I have seen them, I do not think so, but it is a brief shot. At least no one is wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers! And the back and forth between Macy and Kretschmann (Captaincy shifting back and forth depending on the conditions and likelihood of being captured by Americans or Germans--all within a few hundrend miles of the U.S. coast (which is realistic)...ending with Kretschmann ending up as a P.O.W. with the guarantee of living past the war, which was the intention of the Captain played by Til Schweiger.

All in all, it may not be historically accurate, but is a drama set in wartime, with some atypical themes (German taking prisoners against orders), some suspense...you want more from a film that did not get theatre release? I recommend it, but of course it is not a chick flick (probably an un-PC statement although commonly used), but it might become one because of Til Schweiger! So see it!
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on January 24, 2014
I love submarine movies. Good submarine movies. This was not one of them. Scott Caan is not good enough to be a leading actor, and William H. Macy seems doomed to be a sad-sack character. The scenes with his wife were unnecessary, and the little flashback of a conversation with her brought the whole thing to a screeching halt. Give me "U-571" any day.
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on August 3, 2013
This movie is well worth the price. The movie is about an American submarine crew that is picked up by a German U-boat after their.boat
is destroyed. The Germans and Amercans must work together after an meningitis affects both crews.
Excellent acting a little far fetched but very entertaining. Well worth the price if you likeWWII stuff.
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on October 5, 2014
Based on a true story, this is a fascinating tale of the crew from an American submarine who was disabled by a German sub. Having not choice, the American crew surrendered to the German captain. Hitler's orders were to execute all prisoners from the subs but the Captain of the German sub refused to carry out his orders and loaded the American prisoners into his sub. One of the American prisoners became fatally ill and passed it along to the other members of the sub, mostly the German. After losing many of his crew, the Captain had no choice but to ask the Americans if they would help out in operating the submarine. The agreed and even with the angry feelings between the German crew and the American crew, an amazing thing happened and the ending made you want to reach for the Kleenex box. An absolutely incredible story!
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This is an OK war flick but not very plausible in my opinion. The basic notion is that German submariners pick up some shipwrecked American submariners. Various events occur (no spoilers here) which cause the initial hostility between the national groups to eventually abate. Overall I simply did not find the story plausible. U571 is a much more realistic submarine movie that deals with captured crews. I did modestly enjoy this film as I am a sucker for submarine flicks, but this is not one of my favorites. RJB.
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on June 25, 2016
I thought it was part of my prime membership, however $3.50 later I was watching the WWII flick. Wasn't all a waste, William Macy is always a favorite actor of mine. I if you like WWII movies I would watch it!
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on June 23, 2014
It is watchable and mildly entertaining, but that is really the best that can be said about it. From the point of view of historical accuracy, it is far, far from the mark. From the degree of plausibility, it fails both on the medical and military points-of view. The set design is unremarkable, The cinematography doesn't escape television quality. The characters are flat. Even Macy isn't allowed to realize the full potential of the stupidity of his character, which is role he performs so well in so many other films: the well-meaning idiot.

Others have written here that they see this as a highly ideological film, a pacificist statement with a degree of nazi apologism. I don't think the script or film-makers have shown themselves to be smart enough to pull such a thing off. If you want moral complexity in your films set in Nazi Germany, there are so many better examples (hint: watch *recent* German-language films.) If you want conflicted motives in your portrayals of WWII Allied heroes, well you might be looking a long while in Hollywood-made films, but you could try French or British cinema.
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