By Kevin Hoskinson
Tom Hanks. That’s all you need to know about this film. If anyone knows anything about the man outside of his Hollywood career, you know that he is a student of history and loves typewriters. That last fact has nothing to do with the movie, but he probably wrote it on a typewriter. Greyhound feels like what it would be like to be locked in a room for nearly two hours with him and letting him talk about whatever he wants. Combine that with the board game Battleship, and that’s what this movie is.
Based on the 1955 novel “The Good Shepherd” by C.S. Forester, the story takes place in early 1942. In the film, Hanks plays U.S. Navy Commander Ernest Krause. For his first wartime mission, he is tasked with leading a convoy across the Atlantic to deliver more troops and supplies to our allies in Great Britain. Krause and his crew find themselves in The Black Pit, the most dangerous zone in the Atlantic. In this area, they are devoid of air cover or any support and are entirely open to enemy attack.
And that’s precisely what happens. The Greyhound soon finds itself pursued by German U-boats, and it becomes one of the longest and most complex naval battles in history.
Complex doesn’t just describe the battle, but also the film itself. It’s one of those movies that fully demands your attention but doesn’t earn it. I will give it credit for completely trusting it’s audience, but I found it to be grating at times. It’s like a naval history lesson that I wasn’t ready for, but it came up and slapped me in the face. The movie is 90 minutes of Hanks and the crew yelling back and forth about what’s happening. But considering you have no idea who any of these characters are, it’s tough to care about what’s happening at all.
That is one major problem this film faces; there aren’t any personal connections. I’m sure you all remember the wonderfully executed WW-2 film “Saving Private Ryan,” also starring Hanks. That film dropped you in the middle of the war, but it also gave its characters’ personalities. You got to know them through their actions, and by the end of the film, you cared about them. Greyhound does none of that. It’s a tense and dangerous situation, and I couldn’t imagine going through any of it, but as a film, it was hard to care about anyone.
If you aren’t going to watch it for Hanks or the characters, you are probably coming for the battle. The film is CGI heavy and relies on it for everything. I’m not sure what the film’s budget was, but it lost some of its authenticity by not going as practical as possible. I know it’s hard setting up naval battles in the ocean, but it has been done numerous times before. The CGI isn’t bad, it’s actually pretty great, but it never feels entirely convincing. The scenes are cool to look at but overall forgettable.
Look, I understand I’m probably not the audience for this film, and that’s fine. I do love a good military wartime thriller, but I also love interesting characters. If you are into technical jargon and naval history, you might like it. The battle scenes are well-executed, and the tension gets high at times, but it never fails to be fairly generic. It’s a fascinating story, but reading the book might be a better option if you’re into this kind of thing.
Greyhound is now available on Apple TV+
Rating: 2.5 Pastrami Nations out of 5.
Kevin Hoskinson is a writer with a deep-seeded love for movies, comic books, television and the paranormal. From humble beginnings working the box office at his local movie theater, he’s worked his way to becoming a humble family man and professional bug exterminator. Growing up, he wanted to become an astronaut, a Ghostbuster, a dinosaur, and a Disney animator before he found his passion for writing as a teen. He studied film at Los Angeles Valley College with an emphasis on screenwriting and film criticism. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and two kids. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter @Kevin_Hoskinson, and Instagram @kevinhoskinson.