Tom Hanks’ newest movie effort takes place aboard a U.S. Navy Destroyer–aka the USS Keeling— on convoy patrol during the battle for the Atlantic in World War II.
Greyhound is the code name for his ship, and it must protect a convoy making for Liverpool, England, through seas infested with Nazi submarines.
Hanks plays Ernest Krause, a career Navy man; the Keeling is his first-ever command. He’ll be tested when his 37-ship convoy hits “the black pit,” an area of the Mid-Atlantic out of range of protective air cover.
After some narrative chatter in the beginning (plus what must be Elisabeth Shue’s first-ever cameo as his girlfriend) Hanks is ocean bound to face menacing “wolf-pack” of enemy U-boats.
Pow. There’s an attack; then another. Torpedoes are fired every which way, which Hanks manages to avoid. His amazingly young crew are wary of their green captain, perplexed, in fact, by many of his orders. But Hanks does manage to save them all.
The script, written by Hanks and based on the book “The Good Shepherd” by C.S. Forrester, has Hanks reprising, in a way, his signature roles in 2013 film “Captain Phillips” and 2016 biographical drama “Sully,”
In the former he played Capt. Richard Phillips, who faced down Somali pirates; in the latter, he was Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who landed a crippled jetliner in New York’s Hudson River without loss of life.
Likewise, Keeling is a man under great duress.
Hanks’ steely intensity as Krause makes it all work.
I’m not personally as fascinated by the events of WWII as Hanks, but you’ve got to give the man credit for putting his money where his mouth is.
The direction by Aaron Schneider is serviceable, but not quite the breakout it should be.
Although one scene where the Keeling almost collides with a U Boat is terrific, gripping and shot quite well.
Also, when a porter is killed, who was a personal favorite of Krause’s and he presides over a burial at sea, Hanks turns on the emotion.
Hanks, as he has throughout his career, delivers every time.
The film is filled with with telling titbits of WWII detail, too.
The Germans use a decoy device called a pillenwerfer to mess with the ship’s sub-tracking sonar.
They release a slick of oil to create the impression the sub has been hit, and the Germans taunt the Americans by hacking into the communications system (“The grey wolf is so very hungry.”)
The movie was to have had a major release by Sony Pictures under the Columbia Pictures title on Mar. 22, before being delayed to May 8 and finally June 12.
Chalk it up as another casualty of the pandemic. Apple TV+ picked it up and claims to have had a massive audience during its premier last week.
When “Saving Private Ryan” is on (seemingly every day, every minute) and I run across it, I cannot for the life of me turn it off. It’s that good.
“Greyhound” might not be of the same caliber, but it’s good. I say see it.
The film scored a 79 “fresh” rating on review-tracking web site rottentomatoes based on 179 reviews
The consensus reads: “Greyhound’s characters aren’t as robust as its action sequences, but this fast-paced World War II thriller benefits from its efficiently economical approach.” (Whatever that means).
It scored slightly lower on metacritic with a 63 rating.
Hanks, who turned 64 this week, marked the occasion by posting a video of himself jumping over a camera into water from the film.
“This Greyhound is 64!! Hanx,” he wrote.