The good news for “Greyhound” is its limited scope: It’s a tight, unadorned story about a perilous ocean crossing in the World War II Atlantic.
The 400-Word Review: Greyhound
By Sean Collier
July 10, 2020
The bad news for “Greyhound” is also its limited scope: If you’re not in the market for a script almost entirely made up of Naval jargon — and many sequences of large ships slowly turning — you’re going to have precious little to hang on to.
Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) is on his first wartime trip across the Atlantic, leading a convoy of military and civilian ships to England aboard a Naval destroyer. The journey is inherently treacherous; for a few days, the convoy will be beyond the range of American aircraft and not yet close enough to be bailed out by the British in the event of a German submarine attack.
Krause has just sat down to breakfast when the first sign of trouble arrives. (Krause’s denial of food and sleep will become a running theme, and the closest the film gets to actually delving into its hero’s humanity.) As enemy torpedoes begin battering the convoy, Krause leads his men through days of unbroken tension.
“Greyhound” — the title refers to the name of the ship, and is unrelated to both lithe dogs and inexpensive bus travel — is nominally a story of courage under fire, a tale of everything imaginable going wrong on Krause’s inaugural journey. The script — also by Hanks — approaches that study almost silently, however; nearly every word Krause says is a by-the-book command. Moments of self — asking for slippers when his weary feet start to bleed inside his shoes, fighting off tears after a casualty — are more powerful for Hanks’ broader restraint.
Again, though: There is not much to it.
Without Hanks — or, rather, if he had written the script but not played Krause — “Greyhound” would feel more like a curious filmmaking exercise than a success. Fortunately, he’s Tom Hanks, so he can carry it — even with the loss of cinema picture and sound that comes with the decision to release the film through Apple’s streaming service. (Hanks has publicly said he’s unhappy with the home release.)
It’s not a particularly big commitment, anyway; the credits roll after about 81 minutes. If Hanks at sea in a no-frills maritime grappling match stirs your curiosity, you may as well give “Greyhound” a shot.
My Rating: 6/10
“Greyhound” is streaming on Apple TV+.