Well… America’s dad is back in a war film and this time it’s from a completely different perspective. Greyhound shows us the war portrayed the most (WWII) at sea from the point of view of the ship’s Captain. It’s something different than what previous war films have given. Working the same angle can feel stale after a while – Greyhound gives the viewer a breath of fresh air; sea air (aren’t puns fun the way they just roll off the page). When Apple TV + was announced all the world could do is sign and roll their collective eyes thinking how our poor wallets would handle the streaming wars of 2020.
Apple Tv +when announced didn’t look promising. How will it compete with a Netflix, Hulu, Disney + or HBO Max? it would have to offer some exclusive content and a vast library of shows that haven’t been snatched up previously. Frankly, if your service doesn’t have The Office or Friends would any viewers pay for another streaming service? But, Apple had a game plan has some of the biggest stars locked in for original content. Shows including The Morning Show, See, and Defending Jacob instantly make Apple Tv + a contender among the heavy hitters in streaming.
The Ship Greyhound is tasked to lead a convoy of ships from America to England crossing the Atlantic ocean with no air support. On their tails are German U-boats determined to stop the convoy preventing the Americans from joining the War effort in Europe. Captain of the Greyhound, Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) embarks on his first wartime mission holding the lives of so many in the palms of his hands. The waters are stalked by Germans just as the convoy departs leading to a gripping wartime action film.
It’s no secret that Tom Hanks loves making content about WWII – telling stories of some of the bravest men that if these Hollywood renditions weren’t made, the world wouldn’t know of the sacrifices made. Adding Greyhound to that list only makes his fascination more prominent – Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, The Pacific some of his best work to name a few. It’s only right Hanks is trusted to bring this story of one of the largest and complex naval battles in history to life. Greyhound is written by Hanks but, the story as a whole its not among his best. Something feels like its missing from the journey.
The threat is looming, taking its time before they strike down all ships in the convoy. Where Greyhound lacks in dimension and in heart. We know the threat, but we never see them – only when a U-Boat pops up out of the water does the threat actually feel real. Is there even a supporting cast around Commander Krause – Where is the character development for those Krause interacts with the most. We get to know Krause the most from the military perspective in the short run time but that’s it. His main motivation for leading the convoy safely (Other than winning the war) is his wife Eve (Elisabeth Shue) and getting back to her safely.
The supporting cast feels like a bunch of extras – yes, Krause interacts with them but it’s mostly through giving and receiving orders. The person we learn the most about is George Cleveland (Rob Morgan) who is the cook on the Greyhound. We get a little dimension from his and Krause’s interactions together suggesting they are more than just commander and cook – they are actually friends. They must have some sort of relationship based on one of the attacks on the Greyhound by the Germans. Besides Cleveland, we don’t spend any time with anyone else – maybe the radar technician who does a “good job”.
The moment the Greyhound loses air coverage is the moment the audience and Krause can’t catch its collective breath. One attack after the other – the Germans don’t relent in their attacks on the convoy. All the continuous movements from the camera following Krause around can be nauseating to watch. Going from side to side with at least 20 men on the bridge is no easy task as majority of the filming took place on an actual ship. The element of claustrophobia is felt with all those bodies on board. If it weren’t for the fast pace the dialogue would be difficult to follow. Basically, the entire film is composed of naval commands and not much else. If the run time were any longer or the action wasn’t as pronounced this would be an entirely different story.
Hanks gives a Saving Private Ryan type of performance as the gritty, stoic commander tasked to do the near impossible. He is set to complete his mission – not taking failure as an option. Hanks as the screenwriter makes this film and its battles within feel completely intimate as if the audience is on the bridge with him as he’s barking commands and strategizing. One of the best things about wartime films are the strategies that get played out and the thinking that goes into making these tough decisions. You can’t save everyone, that’s inevitable – people will die at your command.
Greyhound is a decent wartime film that just misses the bullseye. Any looser, the shot on target would be missed altogether. The battles, the strategy and the fine performance from Hanks makes this a decent film about a side of the war that rarely gets told. Greyhound is based on the novel The Good Shepherd written by C.S. Forester. Greyhound is also at the mercy of the COVID-19 pandemic originally slated to be released theatrically on June 12th. Apple Tv + picked up the distribution rights from Sony, releasing the film to the streaming service. One can only wonder how these COVID affected films would have done with a theatrical run. I would have been nice to feel these battles in an IMAX or Dolby theater, that’s for sure. Unfortunately, Studios, distributors and theater’s have taken massive hits during this pandemic. We all hope for the crisis to end to get back in the theater and enjoy what we love the most; movies the way they were meant to be seen. If I were to rate Greyhound, I’d rate it a 3.4 out of 5.
So, tell me guys, have you seen Greyhound and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.
Greyhound is written by Tom Hanks and directed by Aaron Schneider is Rated PG-13 and has an 79% on Rotten Tomatoes. Greyhound was released on July 10th, 2020 and has a runtime of 1 hour and 31 minutes. Greyhound can be streamed on Apple Tv +.
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