In Enemy Hands
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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.
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
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. Read morePublished 29 days ago by RAM
No a bad watch. Nothing like Das Boot, but OK for a rainy day.Published 3 months ago by Samurai Clam
This is a good WWII movie, I'd be willing to bet that this could happen.Published 9 months ago by lostintexass
Just an OK movie to spend an hour + watching, better than most, but I wouldn't buy it to see it.Published 10 months ago by William Breen
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