Sony PIctures/Apple TV+
Tom Hanks is one of the best and most respected actors of his generation. Along with acting, Hanks has gone behind the camera on two previous occasions to direct and write That Thing You Do and Larry Crowne. In his first film of the new decade and written by Hanks, Greyhound is based upon a book by C.S. Forester called “The Good Shepherd.” The film gives us a fictional look into the dangers of the sea and a commander’s experiences and pressures as he leads a convoy of ships in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II.
What excited me about the film’s premise and casting is Tom Hanks and his history of war films, mainly with 1998’s Saving Private Ryan. Despite the cinematography and overall narrative, the film doesn’t quite achieve a lasting impact the way Saving Private Ryan does as it lacks severe development for supporting characters.
The solely developed character is Commander Krause (Hanks) mainly because the story is told from his perspective. To the shock of no one, Hanks holds the film together with another exceptional performance. He plays Krause as a strong, intelligent, and compassionate leader and allows the audience to understand why he is in command of the ships. This character is deep, and you could see how rooted he is to the reality and pressures that come with a commander’s responsibilities.
The supporting cast is lacking. You don’t feel for the supporting characters the same way you do the Commander. While the film allows us to see the fear these young men have in a time of war and uncertainty, it’s challenging to invest in them as they mostly feel like war casualties rather than fleshed-out characters.
I do applaud director Aaron Schneider for entrenching his audience with some of the best sea-war battles I’ve seen in quite some time. The technical aspects of Greyhound are a marvel. Along with Shelly Johnson’s breathtaking cinematography, the film’s production and sound design are easily some of the best of the year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the film isn’t a technical player once awards season begins.
Inclusive of all the positives I mentioned, I commend and welcome the 90-minute run time. War films have always been a genre that seems to live and breathe in two and a half-hour run time. Some movies merit this length of time, but not all do. Dunkirk, 1917, and now Greyhound show that an entertaining, exceptional wartime drama does not always have to have a long run time. You can tell an effective and compelling story in a shorter time, and it makes for a better film.
Greyhound doesn’t break the mold for war films, but it does serve as a pulse-induing journey and a vital tale of leadership and exemplary team heroism.