Torpedo: U-235 – ★★★ 1/2

Torpedo: U-235 – ★★★ 1/2

Sven Huynrecht’s Torpedo U-235 is a contemporary submarine film that ticks all of the boxes you need. This is a film that will surprise you with just how good it is. This is a highly rewatchable flick.

Resistance fighters accept a suicide mission to deliver Uranium from the Belgian Congo in a stolen Nazi submarine to the United States. Hunted by Hitler’s army, the crew must outwit the German navy to bring the cargo safely to America.

The opening of Torpedo U-235 would almost have you believe you are watching a Belgian version of the Inglorious Basterds. Which is not an attack on the film by the way. It allows us to get to know our characters in as lighthearted a way as possible for a movie about a suicide mission during World War II. It does though is let the audience know early on that there will be a lot of homages to submarine films of years gone by. Really though, this is The Dirty Dozen set on a submarine.

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Slight nitpicks come to the fore early, with the premise of the crew going from Belgian Congo straight across the Atlantic ocean towards New York. Why on Earth would they risk going across an ocean that will be swarmed with Germans trying to find this sub to either destroy or capture it? Instead of just going down past South America and hit the West Coast, German’s weren’t hanging around too much in South America at the time and seeing as the Belgian Congo is in Southern Africa. It may take a bit longer, but indeed it is safer, right?

Anyway, that is a bit of a digress to beat all digresses (and not the only ones in this review). What allows Torpedo U-235 to work so well is how the entire ensemble has such great chemistry together; you buy quickly into this group. You believe that they have been working together for so long, fighting and surviving together. When introducing two newer characters, we are reminded that while our Belgian soldiers are on the good side; they are still filled with shades of grey when concerning their morals. Some are casually racist; some believe wholly in revenge against the Nazi’s, instead of helping the allies with vital information. This allows for the characters to have some complexity and the cast to have something more to bite into with their roles. They are not simply cookie-cutter characters, and for a claustrophobic film like this, that is vital.

The story takes a few hits thanks to the crew forgetting things that they learned in their crash course lessons (who knew there were so many things just to flush the toilet?). We also have moments of pure stupidity when one of the helmsmen decides to go off for a romantic rendezvous when he should be getting the sub to New York. Similarly, in a vital moment, the radio operator allows a record to play right when it is meant to be hiding from detection from another sub. These are minor nitpicking, but jeez had to be better ways to get the crew into trouble along with their mission than to let the inexperienced crew do such silly things.

Otherwise, the story is solid and is paced very well. We get to know the crew and their mission and have the danger of the second act that begins to start the casualties, culminating in the final fight for survival to get to their destination. It may be a bit of a spoiler, but we know the Uranium gets there. History dictates that it does, after all (even if this story isn’t factual). As much as the story is straightforward, the writing for these characters allows the film to sink in.

As mentioned, the cast is terrific here with their chemistry, but that would be for nought if the writing could not make each member stand out. For such an ensemble, it is usually relatively easy to get confused with who is who. Certain characters are designated with specific roles on the U-boat. We can remember them much easier. However, for a sub that usually fits 35 people, why was everyone sleeping so cramped together when there was less than a third of the crew there.

As we learn more about each character, we are given one of the most horrifying moments seen in a film this year (yes, this film was released in 2019). Perhaps nothing as shocking since Possessor Uncut involving children. By having that scene, we are entirely on Stan’s side, with Koen De Bouw selling his desperation and pain perfectly.

Torpedo U-235 is also one of the better submarine films around, thanks to it being one of the few most up to date ones. Filming underwater scenes is always tricky, so the fact that we can utilise some visual effects to make it all seem a bit more authentic (including when one explodes). It all feels a lot more realistic; thus, the suspense is there to reel in the audience as, like the characters, we fear for the impending torpedo’s.

Torpedo U-235 is an excellent action war film, it is no Das Boot, but it never sets out the intentions of being so. Overall there is a lot to enjoy here, thanks to a great story and a wonderful ensemble.

Dazzler Media presents Torpedo: U-235 on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Now.

★★★ 1/2

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