Greyhound is a 2021 movie written by and starring Tom Hanks.
Directed by Aaron Schneider, the movie is based on a book which was a fictionalized story inspired by the real naval conflicts of World War II.
Capt. Krause (Hanks) commands the U.S.S. Greyhound across the Atlantic while being stalked by a “pack” of German U-Boats.
While the characters and precise events are fiction, Greyhound represents a brutal piece of history and does so with notable realism.
In fact, the film’s realism will be the central selling point for many.
While neutral towards realism in movies, I was struck by the depictions of how 1940’s naval navigation was executed.
Technical details are often overlooked in the making of a movie for the sake of a smoother story. But Greyhound shows officers at the helm of an 1,800-ton battleship drawing headings and calculating intercept points using pens and rulers on a table. In today’s highly technical world, it’s almost unbelievable.
The next positive is tension.
Greyhound’s pacing can easily be compared to the 2017 film, Dunkirk. Both films depict one battle and drive tension by almost never letting up. The lives of Capt. Krause and his crew are under threat for basically the entire 91-minute run time.
Personally, I found Dunkirk’s tension to be too intense (I felt actual relief when the credits rolled), but Greyhound hits more of a sweet spot.
Another major draw for many audiences is Hanks, one of the great living American actors.
Unfortunately, his character feels underdeveloped.
What characterization Capt. Krause gets feels entirely reliant on the subtleties of Hanks’ performance. This speaks to the quality of the performance, but also the thinness of the characters’ writing.
As Hanks himself wrote the script, perhaps what little characterization there is serves as mere scaffolding for the actor to build upon.
One final positive on the movie – the German U-Boats.
If this film is to be believed, German U-Boats were terrifying. With mixed capabilities as a battleship and a submarine, the sight of a member of this pack emerging from the deep was deeply menacing.
The U-Boats also got their own piece of original music to represent their terror, and I loved it.
One of Greyhound’s weaknesses is related to an earlier strength – the realism.
The language the sailors use seems to be period-accurate naval language. At times, the sailors spoke indecipherable jargon in scenes of half-submerged U-boats at night and I confess I found myself confused. This won’t be the case for everyone, but I often didn’t understand the precise stakes of the situations I was watching.
Finally, nearly the entirety of every battle scene is computer generated.
One can’t help but think of an earlier era when they’d use practical effects to film battles as grandiose as these. That being said, perhaps Greyhound never would have been made if it had required that sort of budget.
One final negative – Greyhound is available on Apple TV+ and was not released to theaters. As of writing this review, nothing is known about a possible DVD release date.
I give Greyhound a B.
I give the need for six different subscription services to watch everything, cumulatively paying as much as cable used to cost, an F.