‘Greyhound’ review: wartime chaos on the high seas with Tom Hanks

America's grandpa goes straight to streaming with a patchy WWII thriller

This World War II drama written by and starring Tom Hanks was supposed to open in cinemas back in June, but due to COVID-19, it’s now premiering on Apple TV+. Hanks might be known as “the nicest guy in Hollywood”, but even he was unable to hide his disappointment in a recent interview, describing the streaming release as “an absolute heartbreak”. “I don’t mean to make angry my Apple overlords,” he added candidly, “but there is a difference in picture and sound quality.”

Hanks makes a fair point: Greyhound’s dazzling battle scenes set in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean would probably look more spectacular on the big screen than on a MacBook Air. But thanks to a tight 90-minute runtime, which stops it from feeling like a self-conscious war epic, it works well as a streaming movie too. This is slick, solid and reassuringly serious entertainment that deserves to find a home audience.

It’s easy to see why Hanks was attracted to the source material, C.S. Forester’s 1955 novel The Good Shepherd. He loves a World War II story – he starred in Saving Private Ryan, of course, and executive produced HBO miniseries Band of Brothers – and this one features a very Hanks-like relatable hero. In a corny opening scene featuring an unnecessary love interest (Elisabeth Shue), we learn that Hanks’ Captain Ernest Krause is a dependable career officer being trusted with his first big wartime job. The US has just joined the fight against the Nazis, and Krause is tasked with leading a convoy of 37 Allied ships safely across the Atlantic. From the bridge of the U.S.S. Keeling, where Greyhound mainly takes place, we see Krause become increasingly stressed and sleep-deprived as his vulnerable convoy is stalked by super-stealthy German U-boats.

Greyhound
Stephen Graham co-stars in the Apple TV+ exclusive. Credit: Alamy

It’s an old-fashioned premise shot with trim modern economy by director Aaron Schneider, who previously made the award-winning 2009 indie Get Low. Hanks’ efficient script seems more interested in using accurate nautical technology – which won’t always make sense unless you’ve bothered to swot up beforehand – than creating fully fleshed-out characters, though Stephen Graham (This Is England, The Irishman) adds value as Krause’s loyal second-in-command. Still, the film’s not-so-secret weapon was always going to be Hanks himself. Just as Captain Krause’s unflappable demeanour reassures his crew, Hanks’ presence at the helm of this thoroughly well-meaning film lets us know that nothing is going to torpedo its righteous finale.

Details

  • Director: Aaron Schnieder
  • Starring: Tom Hanks, Stephen Graham, Michael Benz
  • Release date: July 10 (Apple TV+)
Advertisement

More Film Stories:

Advertisement