The old combat adage is that “war is long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of sheer terror.” Greyhound skips the boredom and just gives you the terror. For intensity, the film is top-notch; for character development, it is non-existent. Filmed in tight quarters upon the last remaining WWII destroyer, I found the CGI ocean scenes distracting. Greyhound is really no different that any of the old rah-rah WWII films of the fifties and sixties. Certainly, this movie pales in comparison to Saving Private Ryan. AppleTV+ made the right decision to stream it now rather than await theater openings. That said, this is still an important flick about the Battle of the Atlantic, although fictionalized (History vs Hollywood). I give Greyhound 3.5 Gavels and it receives a 76% Rotten Tomatoes rating with a very early 96% Audience score.
Capt. Ernest Krause leads a convoy of 37 merchant ships protected by the Greyhound and three other light warships. It’s April 1942 and England desperately needs troops and supplies. The Germans send wolfpacks of U-Boats to cut off the sea lanes. Allies successfully respond with air cover except for five days of vulnerability in the middle of the Atlantic known as “The Black Pit.” Darkness, cold, low on fuel and depth charges, and the sheer expanse of ocean complicate Krause’s efforts to protect the ships. And, this is his first command.
From Mr. Rogers to Sully, Forrest Gump to Sheriff Woody, Tom Hanks is in A League of His (Their) Own. Greyhound offers no test of his acting skill, but he is always a pleasure to watch. Almost always seen as a mobster, here, Stephen Graham (The Irishman) is the second-in command, Charlie Cole. If you are still watching Grantchester, new vicar Tom Brittney plays Lt. Watson. Elisabeth Shue gets a very small role as the love interest, adding nothing to the film.
At a taut 91 minutes, only Tom Hanks makes any impression. The rest are mostly “yes sir, no sir.” Many will be put off by 7500-like endless “bearing, range, hard-to-starboard” nautical dialogue. Still, we must remember the 3500 ships and 72,000 lives lost by the Allies in the Battle of the Atlantic. The Nazis lost 800 of their 110 U-Boats and 28,000 seamen. Greyhound depicts just one such dangerous crossing.
The Wall Street Journal gives a thumb-up saying “repetitive though still absorbing dramatically… Parts of the drama play out on its star’s face, and they’re the best parts, because there’s no one better at portraying a good man’s self-doubts and a frightened man’s courage.” The Chicago Sun-Times sounds like a repeat of my complaints. “Greyhound relies far too much on slick but obvious and overdone CGI and gets bogged down in the minutiae and jargon of naval wartime maneuverings at the expense of viewer accessibility and character development.” Overall, I’d say solid, worth your time, but nothing special.
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