Review: If you're not a war-buff, then the Tom Hanks-led 'Greyhound' is for the dogs
When you've achieved Tom Hanks-level status, you expect greatness. Whether that's fair or not, Hanks does have his pick of material at this point in his career, so you know he's going to be invested no matter what he chooses to do. With his latest film, "Greyhound," you can tell that this was a story near-and-dear to him...heck, Tom Hanks doesn't just star in this, he even wrote the screenplay. This just feels sub-par given the production value...it's a big, loud war movie that forgets to make us care about its subjects.
"Greyhound" depicts real-life naval combat battles during World War II with some fictitious characters at the center. The film is based on the 1955 novel "The Good Shepherd," by C.S. Forester, which highlights many of the issues Allied naval fleets had when in combat at sea, dealing with poor technology like HF radio and manual cryptography.
Hanks plays Captain Ernest Krause, commander of the USS Keeling, nicknamed "Greyhound," a vessel that was tasked with leading a multi-national fleet across the Atlantic Ocean to re-supply Allied troops in Europe. One such treacherous stretch of water was unprotected from the air, and it was in this zone where the Greyhound found itself under attack by enemy submarines.
This is a naval tacticians dream film...the vast majority of it plays out like a video game - complete with overblown CG cutaways of ships plowing through massive waves on the open ocean water - and much of the dialogue consists of officers screaming commands, reading radars or relaying positions to one another. It's the sort of inside-military talk that most audience members won't be able to decipher, but we'll get the drift based on the physicality of the actors in the scene.
There seems to be something missing though from "Greyhound." We're given very minor glimpses within of what could have been a better movie, had there been time committed to any sort of character development. A brief scene with Captain Krause and his assumed girlfriend (a bit part portrayed by Elisabeth Shue) is all we get of Krause's personal life, and surely that relationship is one that a different film might have been interested in exploring. Krause himself seems to be a very intriguing subject...he's your typical war-hero in every other movie, but this guy is introverted and unsure. When two crew-mates go fisticuffs on one another, Krause is too meek to even suggest a proper resolution to the matter. Again, this guy seems like exactly the sort of character that Tom Hanks would normally sink his teeth into, but it's left completely alone.
Instead, it's maneuver, out-maneuver...dodge, attack...explosion, silence. Repeat. The battle has no stakes, and therefore doesn't quite resonate.
Was the problem the script? The scope? Surely, "Greyhound" is one of the movies that suffered greatly by being shipped out to the small screen due to the pandemic...this movie is begging to be seen on a big-screen, in a theater ("Greyhound" originally was set to open on June 12th from Sony Pictures, but will now see release on Apple TV+). It's a well-crafted naval combat picture sure to please WWII buffs or fans of this sort of thing, but as a compelling story, "Greyhound" just chases its tail.
Genre: War, Drama, History, Action.
Run Time: 1 hour 31 minutes.
Starring: Tom Hanks, Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue, Michael Benz.
Screenplay by Tom Hanks, based on the novel, "The Good Shepherd" by C.S. Forester.
Directed by Aaron Schneider ("Get Low").
"Greyhound" is available on Apple TV+ beginning Friday, July 10th, 2020.
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