Based on a C.S. Forester novel The Good Shepherd, and a screenplay by Mr Tom Hanks himself, Greyhound is the latest movie to feature Hanks in the role of brave Captain, returning once more to World War II territory. Any hopes that this might be a return to the grand heights of Saving Private Ryan though are soon laid to rest.
Set in 1942, Hanks plays Captain Ernest Krause, responsible for one of only a handful of warships as they escort and protect an even larger number of merchant vessels making the journey across the Atlantic Ocean with vital supplies for England. They will be entering what’s known as ‘the black pit’ – a stretch of Ocean too far out at sea for any aerial cover to be provided by the countries on either side. For a few days, they will be on their own, and at the mercy of any German U-boats they may encounter.
Greyhound wastes no time in landing us right in the thick of it all, joining the crew as they enter the black pit, and sticking with them while they attempt to make it to relative safety on the other side. Obviously, it’s not long before a number of U-boats target the fleet of vessels and begin trying to pick them off in a tense game of cat and mouse at sea.
There is a LOT of nautical jargon in Greyhound and twenty minutes in, I was already feeling exhausted just trying to follow it all and gain any kind of enjoyment out of the movie. Despite throwing the occasion title up on screen to tell us which vessel we’re looking at out on the gloomy CGI seas, it’s also not always clear which ship is which, or who’s firing at who either. That attention to detailed dialogue really doesn’t let up one bit either, making what is only a 91 minute movie feel so much longer.
By throwing us straight into the action, we’re also given no time to learn or even care about any of the characters. Krause is only given a couple of brief flashback scenes, showing us with his partner two months earlier, played by Elizabeth Shue. Other than knowing this is his first Atlantic crossing, and that he is fully committed to the job in hand, refusing to eat any of the hot meals regularly brought to him by the ship’s cook, we’re provided very little information about our Captain.
The crew are also there just to fire off updates to their Captain and respond to his commands, providing no character development whatsoever for them either and giving us nothing to feel invested in, other than a desire for them all to make it safely to England.
With the focus of the movie entirely on the crew and setting of the Greyhound, we only hear from other characters via radio – calls for support from the other vessels, or psychological jaunts from the Germans on the U-boat. Again, by not giving us the viewpoint of any other side or vessel, it all makes for a very one dimensional and dull ride. Definitely not one of Tom Hanks finest.
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