In the early days of WWII, Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks) takes leave of Evie (Elisabeth Shue), who defers his offer of marriage until his return, to lead his first convoy across the Atlantic. Responsible for protecting thirty-seven ships bringing men and supplies to Great Britain, Krause must face 'the dark pit,' a stretch of fifty hours of nautical travel without air support, as he captains his destroyer, the "Greyhound."
Laura's Review: B-
Originally slated for a theatrical summer release by Sony, “Greyhound” is instead making its debut on the Apple+ streaming service due to the pandemic and it is a solid enough calling card to draw new audiences to check out the platform. Star Hanks, adapting the C.S. Forester novel 'The Good Shepherd,' takes such a realistic approach to his material, leaning heavily on Naval acronyms and jargon, that he risks losing the casual viewer, but together with director Aaron Schneider ("Get Low") keeps the fleetly paced film focused on the strategy of battle.
After allowing us just enough time to find our sea legs, the action is announced by Krause being informed that two of his escorts are ‘off on their own,’ ‘on the hunt.’ A wolf pack of six U-boats is converging on the convoy and Krause’s ability to destroy or outwit them will define the success of his mission.
There are several notable elements to “Greyhound,” beginning with Schneider’s ability to portray approaching U-boats like sharks coming in for the kill. A black and blood red slick on the surface indicating the successful hit of a German sub is met with cheers by the crew and private sadness by its commander. A near miss with a merchant ship is hair raising. In another tense scene, Krause’s maneuvering causes a torpedo to bank off his ship’s hull.
Hanks conveys both the anxiety of his responsibility and natural leadership qualities with just enough hesitance to be picked up by his men, most notably when informed early on that he has already deployed most of the ship’s depth charges. Very few other characters really come across with the exception of "Just Mercy's" Rob Morgan whose messmate George Cleveland’s concern for his captain arrives in the form of continual trays of food which is left uneaten. Also notable are Devin Druid as the fresh-faced Wallace and Karl Glusman as the ship’s radar operator. "The Irishman's" Stephen Graham as Krause’s second in command doesn’t get much to do. Elizabeth Shue is so miscast and adrift here, one wonders why her scenes were even left in the film except to pad its already lean running time.
The movie was shot on board a real destroyer augmented with sets. Ocean exteriors are awash in CGI, but generally make the grade. “Greyhound” wraps by delivering its heroic officer disappointing news upon the successful completion of his mission then rallies with an emotional tribute from the men he shepherded to their destination.
Robin's Review: B
December 7, 1941, as FDR said, is “a day that shall live in infamy.” It was also the starting shot for the US entry into the war on the side of the allies, beginning with the Battle of the North Atlantic. Navy Commander Ernest Krause (Tom Hanks), though a veteran of many years of service, gets his first war-time command shepherding a massive convoy from the helm of “Greyhound.”
Tom Hanks stars in, and writes the screenplay for, this adaptation of the 1955 C.S. Forester novel, The Good Shepherd, about the early days of the U-boat battle during World War Two. The story takes the epic scope of the longest running, continuous battle of the war – 1939 to 1945 – and draws it down to its essence: the convoy lifeline.
Here, new but not young Commander Krause takes command of the USS Keeling, call sign “Greyhound,” to escort the 37 ship convey HX25 across the treacherous Black Gap – that vast space where there is no critical air protection. The Nazi’s have been waging unlimited submarine warfare against Britain for two years. But, the US has little or no experience in fighting the Wolf Packs – groups of U-boats operating together to wreak havoc on Allied shipping. This is the situation that Krause, never tested in battle, must face,
Tom Hanks gives a focused performance as a man who has spent his life and career preparing for this moment of command. He is not a young man, though, and the constant burden of his relentlessly intense battle against the marauding U-boats, led by the Grey Wolf, takes its toll. Hanks gives a solid character study as Krause, well-trained but inexperienced in battle, who must protect the ships laden with thousands of troupes and tons of critical equipment. Of course, Hanks gives life to his character, telling the man’s story and struggle with a look, a glance or a grimace.
Be aware, “Greyhound” is full of military jargon given with machine gun pace, hyperactive camera work and editing and non-stop action so those unfamiliar with the subject may be at odds. But, at a concise 91-minutes and no down time, the uninitiated can let the action wash over them and enjoy the rip roarin’ action ride that sophomore director Aaron Schneider provides.
The weight of “Greyhound” rests firmly on Hanks’s shoulders so the rest of the large cast is not given much development time. But, every one of the supporting characters is fully realized in the roles as sailors fighting a life-or-death war. The confusion of battle and its ever changing tapestry loom large as Krause and his men – four tiny escort ships to protect nearly forty freighter, tankers and, most important, troop carriers – go balls to the wall to destroy the taunting and deadly wolf pack.
“Greyhound” will attract the history buffs with its nuanced attention to the many details of the equipment and tactics of submarine warfare. The filmmakers did their homework from the warships to the weapons and uniforms in capturing the moment of the harrowing danger. But, it will appeal to anyone who likes a good, well-told action tale, too.