DIRECTED BY: Aaron Schneider
STARRING: Tom Hanks, Elisabeth Shue, Manuel Garcia-Rulfo, Stephen Graham, Rob Morgan, Karl Glusman, Tom Brittney, Joseph Poliquin, Devin Druid, Maximillion Osinski, Grayson Russell, Dave Davis, Michael Benz and Travis Przybylski
Set set during the early days of the United States’ involvement in World War II, we focus on Commander Ernest Krause who leads an international convoy of thirty-seven Allied ships. While being hotly pursued by wolf packs of German U-boats as they cross the treacherous North Atlantic, Krause must also battle his own self-doubts and personal demons to be an effective leader of the defenders.
Greyhound is a world war II drama that is directed by Aaron Schneider, returning to direct a feature after a decade hiatus from his last film Get Low. This film was originally intended for to be released theatrically by Sony Pictures but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which Apple TV+ decided to acquire the distribution rights from them, which has finally led to Greyhound being on the streaming platform this weekend. Set in 1942, the film focuses on Commander Ernest Krause, a career officer of the US Navy who receives his first assignment and command of a Destroyer, USS Keeling (call sign ‘Greyhound’), leading an international convoy of thirty-seven Allied ships across the North Atlantic that soon becomes hotly pursued by a wolfpack of German U-boats.
What surprised me upon watching Greyhound is that you are immediately thrown into the ocean with the convoy and they’re virtually under attack within minutes and throughout the rest of the film, it is an unrelenting game of cat and mouse as they are on their own against the wolfpack of U-boats for the next fifty hours before they can get air support. Despite having some character actors amongst its ensemble like Stephen Graham, Elisabeth Shue and Rob Morgan, Tom Hanks absolutely carries this film and is the one that gets at least 95% of the screen time as Ernest Krause, an individual whose not given much depth other than his begrudging need to be on guard at all times as he stresses over his own needs to eat and sleep while his men are in danger, and this is played out throughout the film as someone is constantly trying to get him to eat. The feel of how claustrophobic and tense that journey would feel is well captured by Aaron Schneider, with Shelley Johnson’s cinematography working well within tight spaces of the ship, but the films strength comes with its sound mixing and Blake Neely’s score.
Schneider and Hanks knew exactly what kind of film that they wanted to present here, which feels like an old school war film that places you in the moment, but there’s just not enough meat here to make it a great war film. There is a lot of tactical dialogue and jargon delivered here that might make historian fans happy, but for others the film itself will just feel repetitive, even with an eighty-minute runtime (without including credits) and the fact that the amount of seamless faces on board the ship feel like they merge into one as, outside of the character actors, you soon forget the names of the characters that are highlighted here as so many are introduced or appear on screen and become instantly forgettable. Outside of Stephen Graham when it comes to the recognisable faces, Elisabeth Shue and Rob Morgan do feel wasted here considering their talents.
If you come in expecting Greyhound to be an ensemble piece like Hanks’ involvement in Band of Brothers, The Pacific and Saving Private Ryan, then you’ll feel short-changed with this film, but if you are a world war II enthusiast then this film might be for you. Hanks gives a solid performance as Ernest Krause, Schneider’s direction is good and Blake Neely’s score is a highlight.