Dir: Aaron Schneider
Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Shue, Stephen Graham.
This movie was originally supposed to hit theaters this summer. Instead, Tom Hanks, who produced it, took the deal from Apple to offer it up on their streaming service, AppleTV, and credit it as an “Apple Original”, which it never intended to be. I get the feeling some dealing went on with Tom Hanks and Apple to make this thing happen. At first when it was to open in theaters, I heard it was a Tom Hanks directed film. Hanks did adapt the screenplay from a novel, The Good Shepherd, Hanks did produce it, star in it, and I was told even directed it. However upon looking at the film credits, and everything else since it’s streaming release, the director credit has gone to Aaron Schneider, who is mainly a cinematographer.
Tom agreed to some changes by Apple for this deal to happen, since his window for opening in the theater had lapsed, who knows what kind of reaction it would have gotten among all the other films just backed up and waiting to premiere in theaters like a clogged runway at JFK.
Greyhound is about a naval captain who finally gets to command a convoy of 37 supply ships sailing over the Atlantic during WWII. Ships from England and USA sailing together with air cover from America to England. Catch is, there is a 48 hour window where these ships have zero air cover, that area is called The Black Pit and that is when Germany tends to hit the convoy the hardest. That area is too far out for USA planes to cover them and too far out for English planes to cover them, so the ships are left to fend for themselves against German U-Boats, submarines, that are faster, have more firepower and of course, can go invisible under water.
This is not much of a story, at all, but a short, tense, excerpt of time taken by a book that seems to be very high in detail regarding the voyage. Hanks does not give us story, he gives instead a detailed account of this 48 hour battle. It’s simply a survival game that the ships must play as the U-Boats swarm all around them.
Greyhound is a point A to point B story, a matter of fact account of the Battle of the Atlantic and if you like war movies, this one is pretty good. It’s not Saving Private Ryan where you have a cast of characters, in fact it’s quite the opposite. Hanks’s character, Captain Krause is probably the only name you will come away with the entire film. It is he whom we focus on, and it is he whom we cling to for dear life every second of the film.
Elizabeth Shue is here, to simply round out the good Captain. She has maybe 10 min screen time in the entire film. She has one scene. One. She is the love interest that Kraus has to live for, and that’s it. Hanks could have made it a family or sons, or daughters or loving family, but he chose Shue, and she is the only glimpse of a personal life we get about Capt Kraus. Is it enough? No, but then the movie is interesting enough with Hanks going against the odds and fighting off a pack of U-Boats.
Cinematography here is everything and it does a very good job. The skies are always the perfect color, the waves look brilliant as if they were a character all by themselves. The boat is dingy, used up, and rattled, and every single thing on the screen has a personality.
Editing in this film is superb as well. Making a submarine pass a ship can seem mundane, but the sound and editing here makes it seem like the deadliest thing in the world. All ships are given a life, and all U-Boats are given a sneer and a cocky attitude. This is a great teaching class for editors and cinematographers alike. To make the simplest things have meaning and give them tension. After all, these are just 37 boats sailing across the Atlantic, yet this film makes it seem like a marathon of fear and hope. You won’t learn much about ships here, but you will learn about courage, bravery and stamina. You will learn that hard work pays off, and brains are better than brawn.
Greyhound is not for everybody, granted. Its story is simplistic, almost Rambo like. Here’s your ship, now go sail to Liverpool, England. That’s the whole objective. Hanks took a very simple story and relied on amazing movie making to glue us to our seats. If you like Hanks, if you like war movies, and you like action – this film is right up your galley. You wouldn’t think it, just by reading the synopsis, but like the Atlantic during WWII, there is a lot going on underneath the surface.